Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar being presented with a memento during his visit to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple in London, UK, to offer prayers on the occasion of the Diwali festival on Sunday, November 12, 2023. (ANI Photo)
INDIAN external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his wife Kyoko Jaishankar on Sunday (12) paid a visit to BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in London, popularly called Neasden Temple, to celebrate Diwali with British Hindus and members of the Indian diaspora.
The diplomat, who is currently on an official five-day visit to the UK, was accorded a traditional welcome by senior swamis and trustees of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
The duo then went on a brief tour of the temple and admired its intricate architecture while absorbing its peace and learning about the contributions made by the temple and wider fellowship to British society.
Blessed to visit the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Deepavali.
Prayed for the peace, harmony and prosperity of our community around the world.
The Jaishankars also performed the ‘abhishek’ of Shri Nilkanth Varni Maharaj, the teenage form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, before addressing the assembly in the prayer hall.
The BAPS Mandir in London was the first traditional Hindu temple outside of India and is the largest in Europe. It has served as a radiant embodiment of India’s values in the heart of the UK for nearly three decades.
Through spiritual teachings, vibrant cultural celebrations and the hard-working ethos of its congregation, the temple reflects the richness and diversity of India’s heritage.
“A large part of the image of India is what happens in India, but a large part of it is what each one of you [members of the Indian diaspora] does every day – in your work, in your living, in your neighbourhood, and in your activities. The Indian community abroad is our real strength, so once again, I thank you all for everything that you do every day. That is what really defines India. I am blessed that I am with you here today,” Jaishankar said.
Sanjay Kara, a trustee for BAPS in the UK, said, “It was an honour to have the External Affairs Minister join British Hindus and our local community to celebrate Diwali here at the Mandir. This mandir reflects shared values of the United Kingdom and India through its spirit of volunteerism and community service. On this auspicious occasion, we offer our heartfelt prayers that he continues to serve India with fortitude and righteousness.”