Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak accompanied by his wife Akshata Murthy, visited BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi on September 10, 2023, during his official trip to the city for the G20 summit.
The PM and his convoy arrived at 6.45 in the morning. They were warmly welcomed in a traditional Hindu manner symbolising goodwill and friendship.Mr 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. 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.”
During his visit, 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.
Inside the main mandir, Mr Sunak and his wife paid their respects to the sacred images and admired the art and architecture. The couple also performed abhishek (ritual pouring of water) on the murti of Shri Nilkanth Varni Maharaj, and offered prayers for world peace, progress and harmony.
Sharing his impressions of his visit, the Prime Minister 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 honored 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 honor 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.”
Despite the inclement weather conditions, the Prime Minister dedicated almost one hour to partake in the act of darshan and prayer at the temple.