To mark its fifteenth anniversary, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London organised Community Open Days on the weekend of Saturday 11 September and Sunday 12 September 2010. Many members of the public as well as guests visited the Mandir. On the Saturday, the Mandir also welcomed the athletes and members of Team England – who will take part in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi this October.
The opening ceremony took place on Saturday 11 September at 12 noon in the presence of Brent’s Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Matt Gardner and the Commonwealth team.
The members of Team England were pleased to meet volunteers at the Mandir as well as members of the community. Youths from the Mandir guided them and explained the various youth and sporting activities that are promoted at the Mandir. Former Olympic Javelin gold medalist Tessa Sanderson CBE also came to visit with the group.
Christine Ohuruogu, current Olympic and Commonwealth 400m Gold Medallist commented, “I saw some amazing monuments in China [during the Beijing Olympics] – but the Temple is the most beautiful building I have seen.”
The event was based on the theme of “One World – One Community” and proved to be inspiring and fun for all. The activities available throughout the weekend included blood donation awareness, free health screening, guided tours, interactive informative exhibits as well as delicious food stalls. The interactive exhibits consisted of eight zones covering art, values, volunteering, festivals, welfare, music and lifestyle whilst promoting the ‘International Year of Youth’ initiative led by the United Nations.
Natalie – who lives in the vicinity of the temple neighbourhood – expressed her views on this occasion: “I have been living here for the last fifteen years… The Community Open Days brought me and my son to this temple, where we spent four hours seeing the beautiful complex and learning about the community work that it does and feel that these four hours were one of the best moments we have experienced.”
Yogen Shah, one of the many volunteers at the Mandir added, “We are very happy to welcome members of the wider community to our Mandir to give them all an opportunity to participate in the various activities in this, our fifteenth anniversary of the Mandir.”