At the grateful invitation from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, NHSF (UK) attended the event ‘Celebrating British Hindu Contributions’ on the 19th May 2023 at Neasden Temple.
This event celebrated the eternal principles of Hindu Dharma and paid tribute to the valuable contributions made by British Hindus in the UK. The event was a beautiful testament of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s vision of expanding the circle of global harmony. The contributions were themed around five areas: charity and social work, children and youth development, public service, faith and worship and arts and culture. Throughout the event, these five areas were portrayed through addresses and highlights from distinguished members of the British Hindu community.
The event started by paying tribute to His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. In his keynote address, a quote from his excellency Vikram Doraiswami, ‘Let us find our inner unity – that golden thread – that connects each and every one of us. If we celebrate that and get that right, we serve the larger purpose of our civilization and all of humankind,’ highlighting the true essence of Hindu Dharma.
The programme began with a Kirtan medley performed by esteemed individuals from the Chinmaya Mission, ISKCON and the Telugu Association of London. Afterwards, a tribute towards Hindu women in the UK through videography was displayed. Following this, Kaushal Patel, a leading volunteer of the BAPS organisation, delivered an immersive and interactive journey of British Hindus and their contribution to modern day Britain, highlighting how far the British Hindu community has come and how they have bettered society. In the areas that the contributions were themed about, many Hindu organisations have paved the way. These organisations include: BAPS, Chinmaya Mission UK, Go Dharmic, HSS UK, ISKCON, and Sewa UK.
Three of the five keynote speeches for the areas being highlighted at this event, were from previous NHSF (UK) Presidents. The first area was charity and social work. The speaker was Nilesh Solanki, who is a founding member of NHSF (UK). He showcased all the different Sewa being done, both locally and nationally, including recently with the coronavirus pandemic, helping over millions globally.
The second area being highlighted was child and youth development. The speaker was our very own National President of NHSF (UK), Bhavya Shah. He displayed how our youth are embracing what it means to be a Hindu and how NHSF (UK) Hindu Societies across UK universities are a strong pillar, providing a safe space for students to strengthen their Hindu identity.
The third area being highlighted was public service. The speaker was Manoj Ladwa, who is a former President of NHSF (UK). He signified the NHS and the thousands of British Hindu doctors, nurses and care workers who have been working at the UK’s frontline. Furthermore, he shared the brilliance of British Hindu women in the military, as well as the first ever British Hindu Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.
The fourth area being highlighted was faith and worship. This was led by the speaker, Pujya Paramtattvadas Swami who is a part of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. He displayed the importance of mandirs across the UK, many different cultures and the acts of worship across a total of 200 mandirs, all sharing the same aspect of Hindu Dharma.
After this, there was an Aarti ceremony to offer our devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. A performance then took place to honour Bhagwan Swaminarayan and His Holiness.
The final area being highlighted was arts and culture. The speaker was Amish Tripathi, who is the director of the Nehru Centre, London. He shared how Dharma is at the heart of Hindu art and culture, and how Dharma sustained our art and culture for over thousands of years. Further speakers at the event included: Lord Jitesh Gadhia and the High Commissioner of India to the UK, His Excellency Vikram Doraswami.
Nearing the end of the ceremony, a video was played showcasing the impact done by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and how esteemed individuals within the Hindu community across the globe have firsthand seen the work being contributed by His Holiness. Mahamadopadhyay Bhadreshdas Swami, a Senior Sadhu in BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, showcased the positive impact and work done by His Holiness. The final speech of the event was done by His Holiness, he expressed the impact of Hindu Dharma and how it is helping British Hindus’ in all areas of life. His Holiness called upon us to find joy in the joy of others, to be blessed by finding our own progress.
This event highlighted the significant impact and contribution of British Hindus to the UK. President and previous alumni giving keynote speeches showcases how NHSF (UK) truly develops future Hindu leaders, ambassadors and role models. We strive to continue to serve Hindu students across the UK and find joy in the joy of others.