The Gyalwang Karmapa Visits a Hindu Heartland in London

by Karma Wangdu on 27 May, 2017

Neasden, London, England – May 25, 2017

This morning the Karmapa traveled to a northwest suburb of London to visit the impressive BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, the largest Hindu temple in Europe. Marble and limestone have been brought alive by Indian artists, who carved every inch with intricate design. The founder of this Hindu bhakti tradition was guru Swaminarayan (1781-1830), famous for his support of the poor and encouraging women’s education. He was also known for his vegetarianism and opposition to animal sacrifice, positions that the Karmapa also supports.

At the temple, the Karmapa was met by Pujya Yogvivekdas Swami and offered the traditional greeting of a garland of flowers, a tika (the red mark of blessing) and a blessed cord. The Karmapa was then guided through the temple to see an exhibition on understanding Hinduism. Always curious, he asked many question of the guide. He then participated in prayers with the swami and other priests in two of the shrine rooms, both of white marble that had been sculpted in India. During the devotional hymns, groups of children and old people sat on the floor behind the Karmapa and the main priest while they made the traditional offerings of light, circling a candle as the music played and people clapped along to the drum beat.

After a private meeting with the head of the temple, the Karmapa and his entourage were offered a lunch of traditional Indian dishes before returning to his hotel in central London.