“I want to thank everyone at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Kingsbury. You have made me so proud.”
Those were the words of London (UK) Mayor Sadiq Khan when he visited the recently opened Covid vaccination centre at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury, which became the first Hindu temple in Europe to open such a centre. This was the fourth visit to the Mandir from the Mayor.
The vaccination centre not only aims to immunise over 1,300 people each day, but is playing a key role in boosting uptake of the vaccine in South Asian and wider BAME communities – a recent Royal Society of Public Health poll suggested just over half of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people would be happy to have the coronavirus vaccine, compared to nearly 80% of white respondents. NHS England said it fears disinformation could be causing some in the UK's South Asian communities to reject the Covid vaccine.
The Mayor was particularly pleased with that latter impact the Mandir was having.
“I am so proud that the Mandir is working so hard to dispel the myths and false information about the vaccine. It is safe, and it is effective. It is not contrary to the religious doctrines, and has no ingredients that are forbidden by them.”
Purushottam Mahal has been provided to Harness Care, to run the vaccination programme serving the Brent community. The initiative has been inspired in memory of our beloved Acharya Shree Purushottampriyadasji Swamishree Maharaj, who always taught us to put “society before self”.
Mandir Trustee, Dr Mahesh Varsani described the emotions of those visiting.
“Receiving the vaccine is a pivotal step in these people’s lives. Many were very emotional when they received the vaccinations as they realised that this was a life-transforming moment for them. And they seemed genuinely humbled that they were experiencing this at a site of peace, spirituality and prayer.”
Acharya Shree Jitendriyapriyadasji Swamiji Maharaj, who himself has registered to receive the vaccine in India, posted a video to the worldwide Hindu community in which he said,
“To prevent further spread of the disease and to reduce the number of deaths, it is necessary to take the vaccine. It is essential to take the COVID-19 vaccine to protect ourselves, so that the whole world can be healthy.”
The vaccination centre has been serving all sectors of the Brent community, with those being vaccinated here coming from nationalities and faiths. The Mayor echoed this,
“I want to thank you in particular for what you have done in relation to reassuring those who are or are not Hindus, through the amazing work this Mandir has done. I have met here Christians, I have met Muslims, there are many other people here who are not of any particular organised faith. They are experiencing for themselves the power of this Mandir.”
Throughout the pandemic, the Mandir has continued to hold blood donation sessions and food donation drives to front line NHS workers and local food banks. We are proud to have donated use of Purushottam Mahal to Harness Care, and proud that members of the Mandir community have volunteered to provide vital IT, logistics and other support services to alleviate pressure on the NHS. We are also amplifying Harness’s call to priority groups in the local community to receive their vaccinations.