Mayor of London Boris Johnson opens state-of-the-art community and sports facility at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Kingsbury
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson was ‘amazed’ and ‘impressed’ during his visit to Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury as he took part in the opening ceremony of a new state-of-the-art community and sports facility in northwest London.
Purushottam Mahal, as the multifunction hall is known, is part of the wider £20m Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Complex that also includes a traditional Hindu Mandir and offices for small businesses. While traditional in design, architecture and artistry, the Mandir, and indeed the whole site is sustainable by design and features many green technologies that make this the world’s first “eco-Mandir.” The Mandir itself will be opening in August as part of a grand six day festival that will be open to all.
The Mayor was guest of honour to the Organisation’s spiritual leader, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, who presided over the opening ceremony of Purushottam Mahal. On His arrival, the Mayor was welcomed, saluted and escorted by the Mandir’s very own and world famous Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band – Mr Johnson even tried his hand at playing the bagpipes, and acknowledged the tremendous effort and dedication it must take to play such an unforgiving instrument.
“What an amazing welcome!” exclaimed the Mayor as he addressed the thousand-plus audience. By this point, Mr Johnson was adorning a ‘Paagh’ – a turban tied using a single piece of unsewn white cotton. This is an ancient Indian tradition equivalent to receiving a title or award, which has been kept alive by Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, the global parent organisation of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury, based in Ahmedabad, India.
Never far from Politics, the Mayor jovially referenced the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence. “No matter what is decided north of the border, London will always have its Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band!” He continued, “I am hugely impressed at what you have achieved here. London is the world’s most diverse city and what better example of that diversity than what we see here today – a traditional, magnificent Mandir on ones side of the courtyard and a modern sports and community centre on the other.”
The Mayor was given a tour of the near-complete Mandir and surrounding facilities, and also took time to meet and greet many of the hundreds of members of the Mandir’s Academies, which include traditional music and dance, sports, and young cadets of the Pipe Band. Today also saw the launch of the Mandir’s latest activity – a cycling academy that aims to encourage the community to use the Complex in the most green and sustainable manner possible. There is probably no stronger activist for cyclists than the Mayor himself.
Trustee of the Mandir, Mahesh Varsani explained, “Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s mission is to inspire the community through hubs like Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury, which he has established all over the world to promote peace, spirituality, charity and community.”
A highlight of the day was a traditional dance performed for the Mayor by the young students of the Mandir’s Shree Muktjeevan Arts and Culture Academy, which doubled up as a trailer for the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury Grand Opening festival taking place from 19-24 August. See attached Press Pack for more details about this festival.