Blessings as new BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple opens in Greater Manchester

Video report by Andy Bonner

A new Hindu temple in Greater Manchester has opened its doors to the community.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, on Lees Road, Ashton-under-Lyne, is part of the same Hindu denomination that has created the internationally acclaimed Neasden Temple in London.

The long-awaited opening marked the culmination of almost seven years of efforts by hundreds of volunteers from the local Hindu fellowship.

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Ashton-under-Lyne Credit: ITV Granada

With the blessings of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Hindu tradition, senior swamis (Hindu monks) from India and London performed a special Vedic ceremony infusing the sacred images with the divine presence of the deities.

Local devotees and guests from around the country attended the inauguration ceremony, while many more across the world joined online through a live web stream.

Members of the Hindu fellowship pray for peace and harmony Credit: ITV Granada

The historic opening was commemorated during a special weekend of celebrations.

It included devotional offerings as well as prayers for peace, harmony, well-being and righteous prosperity to prevail throughout the local community and across the world.

The elaborate shrine housing the temple deities Credit: ITV Granada

BAPS (Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha) in Manchester began its activities in a small terraced house in 1977.

Religious assemblies and festivals were conducted at various houses and hired halls with a handful of devotees.

The original temple in Ashton-under-Lyne in 1977. It was the first BAPS mandir in the UK. Credit: Friends of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Manchester

In 1980, a re-purposed place of worship was established at a three-storey disused factory at Russell Street, Ashton-under-Lyne.

However, the space became impracticable for the growing community and, in 2000, they acquired the land for the new temple.

Volunteers offered help during the pandemic in May 2020 Credit: Friends of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Manchester

The plans finally came to fruition today, a year after the project was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Volunteers from the local Hindu fellowship used the time during lockdown to turn their attentions to helping food banks and Tameside Hospital.

The temple will provide 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 Greater Manchester area.