BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir knew as the Neasden Temple is a Hindu temple in Neasden, London. Constructed totally using traditional methods and ingredients, the Swaminarayan Mandir has been claimed as being Britain's first authentic Hindu or Sanatan temple. It is also Europe's first true traditional Hindu stone temple, as distinct from converted secular buildings. The templ2 is a branch of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) organisation and was founded inaugurated in 1995 by Shri Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
A traditional Hindu temple (Mandir), which is built mainly from hand-carved Italian Carrara marble and Bulgarian limestone. The temple is the main focus of this complex.
The second one is a permanent exhibition entitled "Understanding Hinduism"; and the third one is the acultural centre, known as the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Haveli, designed in traditional Gujarati haveli style architecture, consisting of an assembly hall, gymnasium, bookshop, and offices.
Before sunrise, the Murtis which are worshipped in their night attire are wakened by the sadhus and the shrine doors are opened for the Mangala Aarti, which is the first of the daily five Aarti rituals offered during the day. Aarti is a ritual wherein a specific prayer is rare wakenedecited in a poetic manner with music while the sadhus wave a lighted lamp in front of the idols of God. The sadhus recite some shlokas (prayers), serve the almighty, offer them food sweets and bathe them, and close the shrine doors. The shrines are then opened again for the second aarti known as Shankar Arti. The shrines then remain open from 9:00 am to approximately 11:00 am when the shrines are closed and offered that, the daily lunch food. At 11.45am, the shrines are opened for the midday art which is called Rajbhog Arti, and the thal (offering hymn) is recited before the idol of the Gods. The shrines are then closed after this to allow the Deities to rest during the afternoon.
The shrines then once again re-open at 4:00 pm (3:30 pm on weekends) until 6:30 pm for darshan for visitors. The Sandhya Aarti then follows at 7:00 pm. Thereafter, a selection of prayers is recited by the devotees including dhun where the names of God are chanted and verses of praise are sung. The shrines are then closed again for approximately one hour so they can be offered their final meal by the priests.
After all this, the deities are now prepared for the night and adorned in their evening attire by the sadhus. The shrines are opened the last time for the Shayan Aarti (nighttime Aarti), with the lights dimmed and music lowered. The devotees recite only a few hymns, gently sending the Deities to sleep before the shrines are finally closed for the night.
This popular temple is open to people of all faiths and none are restricted. Entrance is free, except to the 'Understanding Hinduism' exhibition where there is a £2 fee.
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