By Sushma Lobo
Photo Credit: Suryakant JADVA and British Asia News
London, Aug 7: As the epic Shree Harikrishna Mahostav 9 day’s event took place last month 13th-21st July in celebration of the regeneration project British Asia News joined them at the Swaminarayan Mela. The celebration invited dignitaries, high priest, traditional entertainment dances and a vibrant atmosphere welcoming the community with a Katha in the morning followed by the Mela in the afternoon.
A grand Hindu Mela was held at Shree Kutchi Leva Patel Community (SKLPC) Centre in Northolt, Middlesex. The Mela was part of the week long Shree Hari Krishna Mahotsav Celebrations at Shree Swaminarayan Temple, Willesden and was organised in partnership with SKLPC. Over 6,000 people attended the event which included a grand “Royal Vachanamrit Exhibition” commemorating 200 years since the divine scripture was written, a continuous recital of “Vandu Pad”, live music and dance performances from Shree Kanya Vidya Girls School from Bhuj, India and a lazium and drum performance by the youth of Shree Swaminarayan Temple, Willesden. Fresh food, refreshments and desserts was served throughout the day and members of the Police were also present providing advice and information on Community Safety.
Various health wellbeing stalls were also set up, providing key advice on physical and mental wellbeing, as well as one for “Aangan” promoting a wonderful project in Ahmedabad, India which provides safe spaces for vulnerable and displaced children.
His Holiness Acharya 1008 Shree Koshalendraprasadji Maharaj along with esteemed Saints from India, graced the event and showered blessings to all in attendance. Other dignitaries included Lord Navnit Dholakia, Stephen Pound – MP for Ealing North, Superintendant Ricky Kandohla – Lead for Metropolitan Police West Areas, and various Councillors from Brent and Harrow.
The huge gathering of like-minded people was not only a spiritual day but also a fun filled family cultural day out. The children were a priority with inflatables for them to jump on and play games and arts to entertain them, with people dedicated to look after them, whilst the adults could appreciate the katha, socialise, listen to the spiritual leaders and enjoy the cultural entertainment.
Jayanti Patel chairman of Brent conservatives who is part of the Kutch Gujarati community and had been invited to the event said “I think we need more people in the Gujarati community to come forward there’s not enough representation within the council. Considering Brent and Harrow has the largest Gujarati community we don’t have the representation. We need more youngsters from the community to get involved. The alternative is pubs and partying and getting drunk if we get youngsters involved things can go forward.
The President of SKLPC committee Velji Vekaria said “This is an event run by Swaminarayan temple Willesden on the occasion of the regeneration opening ceremony; they wanted a wider premise so they came to SKLPC. Willesden temple, Kenton temple, Kingsbury temple all these temples are under one community and it has two arms one is religious and the other is social called ‘Samaj’. This is where we are it is the best place where people get to meet together, greet together, eat together and unite”.
Committee cohesion was amazing and inspirational with 100’s of volunteers. There was free hot food served with volunteers cooking it fresh on site. The cooks in the back kitchen said “we have been frying since 6am for around 6000 people and have peeled cut and fried around 1000kg of potatoes and we are all volunteers”
Dhanuben Jadva was dressed in a beautiful saree wondering around with her friends we asked her what she thought about the event and she said “we have come to the mela to enjoy ourselves, we have eaten food, watermelon, ice cream, I met up with my friends circle and have been enjoying the atmosphere”.
Kavita Vekaria one of the volunteers said “the event has been brilliant today, the mela team have a 100 volunteers here today, this is called our Samaj grounds so we have not been charged for the venue premises. Everything here has been organised by the youth who have been working very hard for the past few months organising, all 9 days has fresh food cooked daily for lunch and dinner.”
We spoke to super intendant Ricky Kandola , West area neighbourhood and partnership superintendent who over looks Hillingdon, Ealing and Hounslow said to British Asia news “My team are here today speaking to the community, it’s about community trust, engaging, and celebrating what is the regeneration project for Willesden temple. We have crime prevention here, horses and police today it gives children the opportunity to explore policing as a choice of career in the future. London is diverse and what we want to do is make the met police as diverse as possible to represent the community. ”
Detective Sergeant Ketan Gami from Holborn station was present with his team and when we asked him what a CID does he said “we investigate the more serious end of crime after initial investigations been completed, I am here today with my team of officers from this community which reflect the composition of the community around engagement with a spectrum of people from the country, across London and internationally. Our aim today is engagement with the younger children, getting them confident in speaking to the police, talking and engaging with the police on a ordinarily level.
“To see that community events such as this incorporate inspirational careers and allow the community to interact with and become confident in what the British government has to offer the country was very positive to see.
Sima Sajitra was serving fresh waters melons for the community it is something they do every year, it’s something that her father in-law started, Devraj K Halaria, the DK foundation and they have carried on the tradition as a family at any events related to the temple. Sima tells British Asia news that “usually we have family members helping and serving but we always get people just volunteering everyone is hands on here. We are here serving the water melons to our community, being here gives us all the time to socialise, see people, and catch up.” From everyone we spoke to it started becoming apparent that the community cohesion created here is truly inspirational involving collaborative work of all generations to participate and orchestrate the event.
With popcorn, ice cream, watermelon, a kid’s zone and cultural entertainment the celebrations continued throughout the evening making it a successful day. The food was great, the heavens had opened up the skies with sunshine, entertainment was mesmerising and words of wisdoms from dignitaries inspired.