Sunak visits BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham temple in Delhi
Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy spent 45 minutes at the Akshardham temple on Sunday morning, offering prayers and learning about its architecture and history
Prime minister Rishi Sunak, accompanied by his wife Akshata Murthy, visited BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, on Sunday (10) as part of their official trip to the city for the G20 summit. They were warmly welcomed in a traditional Hindu manner symbolising goodwill and friendship.
Sunak was then greeted by swamis, as well as senior leaders from Akshardham Mandir, who relayed a special message on behalf of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, spiritual leader of BAPS.
His Holiness had extended his personal wishes and prayers for him and the other delegates, a press release from the temple said. He wrote, “In the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, we pray for you and all the attendees: May the summit be a resounding success in collectively helping the whole world towards peace, righteous prosperity, and global harmony.”
Sunak and Akshata spent 45 minutes at the Akshardham temple, offering prayers and learning about its architecture and history, temple management officials said.
“It rained but prime minister Rishi Sunak and his wife graciously offered prayers at our temple and it is a matter of great honour for us to have hosted them at this revered temple,” a senior temple management official said.
A trustee of the BAPS Swaminarayan Trust, UK and a volunteer from the Neasden temple in London accompanied Sunak and his wife during their visit, said another temple management official who was part of the reception team.
“Prime minister Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty walked barefoot in the temple premises even in rainy weather. From the reception area to the main temple complex, there is a distance of about 150 metres and both of them walked barefoot back and forth,” the official said.
They first offered flower petals (pushparpan) to the golden idol of Swaminarayan ji and then offered ‘aarti’, he said. “They also offered flower petals to idols of Sita-Ram, Radha-Krishna, Laxmi Narayana and Shiva-Parvati in the temple complex.
Sunak enquired about the architecture of the temple and its history,” the official said. He also saw some of the sanctified items that belonged to Swaminarayan ji, such as shoes and a garland, the official added.
The prime minister was given an overview of Swaminarayan Akshardham – a 100-acre spiritual and cultural complex that portrays the traditions and ancient architecture of India and promotes the timeless Hindu spiritual messages of faith, devotion and harmony.
Sunak and Akshata were gifted a marble elephant and a marble peacock besides a special replica of Akshardham.
Sharing his impressions of his visit, Sunak said, “My wife and I were delighted to visit Swaminarayan Akshardham for darshan and puja this morning.
We were amazed and awed by the beauty of this temple and its universal message of peace, harmony, and becoming a better human being. This is not only a place of worship, but a landmark that also portrays India’s values, culture and contributions to the world.
We see today in Britain these very same values and culture through the positive contributions the British Indian community makes to our country.
I was honoured to have received the blessings of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj conveyed to me this morning, and I understand that His Holiness is inaugurating another beautiful Swaminarayan Akshardham temple in Robbinsville, USA very soon.
I would like to send my very best wishes to His Holiness and all the devotees of BAPS ahead of the opening.”
Brahmavihari Swami, the senior swami of the sanstha, added, “It was an honour to welcome the prime minister to Swaminarayan Akshardham and share His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s message of peace, unity and public service. The UK’s relationship with India is built on a bond of friendship and fostered by cultural exchanges as well as a vibrant Indian diaspora in the UK. We were delighted to strengthen this relationship through this visit.”
In an interview to PTI ahead of his India visit, Sunak had said, “I am hugely proud of my Indian roots and my connections to India. As you know, my wife is Indian and being a proud Hindu means I will always have a connection to India and the people of India.”
(With inputs from PTI)