£1 million BAPS Swaminarayan Temple opening in Leicester, England

The £1 million BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Hindu Mandir is opening in Belgrave section of Leicester in England on October nine. This Mandir, which features three sikhar towers and was approved by the City Council in 2008, besides regular worship services, will reportedly have provision for morning-evening aarti, sports, music lessons and Gujarati instruction.

Meanwhile, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, applauded efforts of Mandir management and area community for realizing this wonderful temple complex.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this new Temple would help in this direction. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of Self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism.

A former industrial site, this Mandir complex will reportedly have over 100 parking spaces. Temple management, in order to keep the traffic congestion to minimum, is encouraging worshippers to walk, cycle or use public transport; and might use shuttle service to temple on major festivals. Much of the building work is said to have been carried out by volunteers. Sanjiv Patel is reportedly one of the temple leaders.

Established in 1907, Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) with headquarters in Amdavad (India) is “a socio-spiritual Hindu organization with its roots in the Vedas”. Worldwide, it claims to run 3300 centers, 5400 weekly assemblies exclusively for children and 7215 for others, eight hospitals and healthcare clinics treating 415,000 patients annually, 31 educational institutions, tree plantation-water conservation-recycling projects, 800 centers for tribal upliftment, and over 700 mandirs; and has over 800 sadhus and 55000 volunteers.

Belgrave, home of 1969 launched Milans Saree Shop and Golden Mile (with concentration of gold selling shops), is represented by Councilor Rashmikant Joshi.

About 25% population of Leicester, socially and environmentally progressive melting pot founded in 50 CE, is of India descent and about 15% of its residents are Hindus. About 16% residents speak Gujarati and other languages spoken include Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and Malayalam. It contains about 2000 years old Jewry Wall, St Nicholas’ Church with traces going back to about 880 CE, and Leicester Castle built around 1070. It already has various Hindu temples, including Shree Jalaram Prarthana Mandal, Haveli Shriji Dwar, Shree Ram Mandir, Shri Siva Murugan Temple, and Shree Sanatan Mandir. Sir Peter Soulsby is the Mayor of Leicester and Deputy Mayors include Manjula Sood, Piara Singh Clair, and Mohammed Dawood. Prominent people associated with Leicester include Quakers founder George Fox, actor-director Richard Attenborough (Gandhi), actor Richard Armitage, travel agency founder Thomas Cook, King of England Richard III, bowls player Tony Allcock, and Olympic medalists John Merricks and John Arthur Jarvis.

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