Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury places huge importance in education, stemming from the lineage of Lord Shree Swaminarayan that has established a culture of educational support. Indeed, in establishing the headquarters of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa founded a boarding house for students even before building a Mandir there. This was only the beginning, as Swamibapa established a tradition whereby funds raised during grand religious festivals were reserved to fund societal projects – predominantly educational establishments. Continuing and flourishing that tradition, Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj established numerous schools and colleges, including Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Mahila Arts & Commerce College in Bhuj, exclusively for girls so that they may access high-quality education within the Kutch region.
Sunday 27th August saw an Education Awards morning, inspired and presided over by Gnan Mahodadhi Acharya Swamiji Maharaj. The morning programme commenced with a superbly choreographed classical music performance from the students of Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Academy of Performing Arts and Culture. The Academy commenced 2 decades ago in Golders Green by the inspiration and encouragement of Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. With the ongoing encouragement from Acharya Swamiji Maharaj there are now over 40 students ranging from 5 years to 80 years old in the Music Academy.
Over 78 awards were given out in total to students who had excelled at GCSEs, A-levels, vocational and technical training, professional qualifications and specialist certifications. A total of 21 excellence awards were handed out – reserved for those who had done exceptionally well in their educational achievements. Amongst these were 5 first class honours at degree level.
With an added twist to this year's Education Awards, in June, some students and helpers from Swamibapa Gujarati School were paired up or 'buddied' up with a nominated Sant. Students were assigned in pairs to speak to their nominated Sant, ask them questions and learn about Bapa's teachings. These students spoke about their findings and learnings and assisted in the delivery of awards.
The morning also saw a charming performance from the boys of Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Choir. The boys introduced their act, they reminded the congregation to have unfaltering faith in the Lord and that whatever He gives us is for our own good; 'He Hari Je Aapne Game Bus Eteluj Aapjo Mane'. What an endearing act they performed!
The morning was a wonderful celebration of the exceptional talent that exists within the Mandir community, and served as an inspiration to future generations as to what can be achieved through hard work, dedication and the grace of God. We pray to the Lord that our community continues to achieve and flourish in this way, that achievers use their talents and skills for the progression of the Mandir and Sanstha, and remain humble with the understanding that all their successes are due to the mercy of God.
Following the morning celebrations, Maha Prasad was served to all in the Mandir courtyard.