Acharya Swamishree Maharaj presides over the opening ceremonies of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir at Kingsbury in London. The ornate £20m temple will be the world’s first ‘eco-temple’ featuring solar panels on the roof and a rainwater harvesting system.
The new mandir combines traditional Indian architecture and carvings with “green” technology, and is funded entirely by the local community.
The new site includes a multi-function hall with facilities for sports and receptions, which will be made available to members outside the internal community under the terms of the temple’s development.
The temple was opened with a six day festival dotted with several dance, music and street parades.
The temple’s opening has been marked with a concert to celebrate the arrival of the sect’s disciples in the capital 50 years ago.
A magnificent Nagaryatra (procession) was held through the streets of Central London to markthe occasion.
Formed of spectacular chariots, thunderous dhol drums, beautifully costumed dancers, carnival performers, marching cadets and melodious bagpipers from four continents, a parade of passion, strength and unity started at Jermyn street and made its way along Pall Mall, around Trafalgar Square, past Horse Guards Parade and through to Parliament Square.
The long parade of performers of all ages, entertained the crowds along the route with sets fusing the cultures of the west and east, in a cacophony of sounds and action. Lord SwaminarayanBapa Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, gave darshan to disciples and observers on the route, while seated upon ornately decorated chariots, designed and made by the disciples and sants of Kingsbury temple.
After over two hours of festivities the parade reached Parliament Square, where MP Barry Gardiner was waiting to greet Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. Acharya Swamishree bestowed blessings upon him and the UK parliament and urged them to continue the good works they do for the community and society.
The grand opening of the temple marked the beginning of a new chapter and the end of a 50 years journey inspired by Gurudev Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa.
In 1964, he inspired the community to come to London, establish roots and spread the faith. The year also marks the end of Acharya Swamishree’s tireless mission to realise his beloved gurudev’s vision – to build a magnificent ‘sikhar-bandh’ mandir in London under the realm of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi.
The new Kingsbury Mandir, a magnificent addition to the skyline of London, is adorned with eight magnificent kalashh (tower).
Acharya Swamishree performed poojan and aarti to the kalash in the presence of Lord SwaminarayanBapa Swamibapa inside the Mandir, before they were taken outside to be transferred to the roof by crane.
On the roof, each kalash was attached to a sikhar (tower) by sants as Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band played in the compound below, and saluted as each kalash was attached, and the gathered disciples cheered. For the kalash on the sikhar above Shree Ghanshyam Maharaj, Acharya Swamishree, was taken up to the top of the sikhar by crane and positioned the final kalash himself. As he gave darshan Acharya Swamishree raised the largest cheers.
The flags for the mandir were hoisted aloft and finally the new Kingsbury Mandir was complete, and it was a sight to behold.