Kailash Parekh from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Preston has sent Podio Preston the following press release. BAPS Preston, has been established at Ribble Bank Street since 2015. It provides various educational, community and spiritual activities for children, youths, families and the elderly. It is also a focal place of worship for hundreds of Hindus in the Preston and surrounding areas.
The Mandir forms a part of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), an international community-based Hindu organisation affiliated to the United Nations, caring for individuals, families and societies through its more than one million members, 55,000 volunteers and 3,850 centres. Under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, BAPS strives to build a righteous, peaceful and harmonious community that is spiritually elevated and free of addictions and violence. In the UK, BAPS is respected as one of the largest and most active Hindu organisations in the country. It is particularly known for its multifarious community outreach activities and the internationally acclaimed BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London.
To learn more about BAPS and the Preston Temple, please visit baps.org/preston. Contact Media Relations, Ambrish Limbachia, 07930 653191, Info.email@example.com
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) in the UK has launched a nationwide community care programme to support individuals and local communities in response to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In the interest of public health and the safety of all devotees and visitors, BAPS Swaminarayan mandirs (Hindu temples) across the UK, including BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Ribble Bank Street in Preston, closed on Friday 13 March 2020 until further notice due to the escalating global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Gatherings at the Mandir have been suspended since 5 March 2020. This additional measure has been taken to help delay the disease from spreading further, as part of our collective social responsibility. As the global community works hard to tackle and ultimately overcome this crisis, BAPS in Preston remains committed to fulfilling the spiritual needs of people in the local community, recognising that such challenging times call for innovative ways of meeting those needs. These times of uncertainty have brought unprecedented challenge and unrest across the world. His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS, has issued a call for all volunteers to act upon their dharma (duty) in this time of need. BAPS has mobilised over 580 volunteers in more than 30 areas around the UK, including in Preston, to support the elderly and needy in local communities. This ‘Connect and Care’ initiative is a holistic offering to the community to ensure they are informed, safe and supported. The multi-faceted initiative includes:
- Public announcements and publications, including summaries of government guidance, to provide important advice on remaining stable and healthy, and to support individuals as well as businesses
- Weekly religious assemblies for children, teens and adults are being webcast live every weekend to ensure all generations continue to benefit from spiritual wisdom. Darshan of the murtis at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – popularly known as the Neasden Temple – is available every morning from the Mandir’s website, while the arti ceremony (ritual waving of lighted wicks before the deities) is also available to view each evening through a live webstream.
- Online resources are already provided to families encouraging them to conduct assemblies in their homes which help to foster family unity and spiritual understanding. Other online platforms and tools are being employed to allow devotees to receive regular updates and important guidance on how to stay safe and stable.
- A series of health awareness videos and presentations in English and Gujarati to educate the public on its collective responsibility to help stem the rapid spread of this deadly virus
- More than 12,300 phone calls to over 6,700 families across the UK, including 400 families in Birmingham, to enquire about their welfare and provide support and comfort
- Reaching out to over 100 elderly and vulnerable people in Preston on a regular basis to collect shopping, medication and running essential errands, where required
- More than 100 letters posted to residents of local communities, offering support during this difficult period
- Delivering essential groceries to the needy in the local community
- Supporting the NHS and local organisations for the homeless and community food banks, including Foxton’s and St Stephens Food Market by providing food and letters of appreciation for their heroic staff and volunteers
- A parenting toolkit with resources and guidelines to keep children of all ages active and engaged
BAPS has also participated in national initiatives related to the pandemic. A special Nilkanth Varni abhishek (ritual bathing) ceremony was performed by swamis at the Neasden Temple, the European headquarters of BAPS, and simultaneously by devotees in their homes, on 22 March as part of BAPS’s observance of UK’s National Day of Prayer and Action. Various mandirs in the UK were illuminated in blue on 25 March as a mark of respect and gratitude for the tireless and selfless NHS workers. Worshippers in Birmingham are joining the weekly nationwide ‘Clap for Carers’ initiative in their respective homes for a collective applause to thank the NHS.
BAPS continue to fulfil the spiritual needs of people in communities across the country through online worship, including webcasts of daily rituals, religious assemblies and discourses. This fusion of technology and devotion is bringing people together from around the world and providing a connection to spirituality during these times of isolation and social distancing. Shiv Patel, a volunteer at Preston Temple, said, “His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj has inspired and energised us to serve the people of this country and stand by them in their time of need. We’re praying together for this pandemic to subside and for God to provide strength to all.” Shruti Patel, a worshipper at the Mandir, also shared, “During this incredibly difficult time for so many people across the world, my family, including our two young children, are extremely grateful for such ways to remain connected with the Mandir and keep our faith alive when we need it the most.”