The grand centenary celebrations of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha for UK and Europe were held at one of London’s most prestigious venues, Wembley Arena, on Sunday 7 October 2007 in the presence of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The programme was witnessed by almost 12,000 invited guests and dignitaries. Thousands also gathered at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, who watched via a live telecast. And many more from around the world enjoyed the live webcast.
The opening abstract video set the tone of the event, introducing the concept of serving others. This was elaborated upon with testimonies from young and old volunteers of BAPS and how they had been inspired to work for the joy of others.
A spectacular welcome dance enthralled the capacity audience, who also contributed to the joyous mood by clapping and waving their flags.
Thereafter, the origin of the concept of ‘In the joy of others, lies our own’ was traced to ancient Hindu scriptures. This was followed by senior sadhus who spoke of the rich history of service in BAPS, narrating it from the life and work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan through to Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. These short addresses were complemented by inspiring video presentations and then another energetic dance.
A recounting of the history of service in the organisation was followed by a presentation about current BAPS activities and live testimonies. This further enhanced the message of finding our own joy in the joy of others. In continuation of this theme and as a part of its ongoing multifarious community outreach programmes, BAPS took this opportunity to raise funds and awareness for Breast Cancer Care, UK. Proceeds from voluntary donations were pledged to the worthy cause, with BAPS presenting a first cheque of £12,000 on the day.
Another special feature of the evening’s programme was the message from the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP. He congratulated and thanked BAPS on its hundred years of service to the community, and added: “The contribution you make to the education of our young people and the cultural community life of London and the United Kingdom is something you all should be very proud of. You espouse ideals of community and voluntary service, which are an example to us all.” Several MPs, local councillors and local leaders were also honoured.
Then after collective prayers by children, youths and the elderly, Swamishri offered his blessings for the auspicious occasion by emphasising the progress of spirituality through the scriptures. Finally, Swamishri encouraged family harmony and spoke of the messages of Bhagwan Swaminarayan to serve for the good of others, and prayed that we endeavour to serve for the joy of others.
The grand finale of the occasion came with a glorious centenary dance, which climaxed with streams of confetti erupting inside the auditorium and providing a memorable conclusion to this breathtaking celebration.