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Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald Blog

Why Archbishop Nichols visited a Hindu temple

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Photographs of Archbishop Vincent Nichols visiting a Hindu temple in London on Saturday are causing a bit of a stir on Twitter. This is what the Archdiocese of Westminster says about the visit:

The visit took place on Saturday 21 November 2009 during Interfaith Week and on the birth anniversary of the worldwide spiritual leader of the Hindus who pray at the Mandir (Hindu Temple) at Neasden, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Archbishop Nichols was greeted by the Mandir’s spiritual leader, Yogvivek Swami, ( Head Sadhu, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha – UK & Europe) and the Trustees of the Mandir. He was welcomed in traditional Hindu style – with a red vermillion mark applied to the forehead and the tying of a sacred thread on the wrist, symbolising friendship and goodwill.

Yogvivek Swami guided the Archbishop around the Mandir complex, including the sanctum sanctorum where the Archbishop offered flowers at the altar to the deities. He then moved to the deity of Shri Nilkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan) where he joined Yogvivek Swami in praying for world peace and harmony.

After a private meeting with Yogvivek Swami, Archbishop Nichols spoke to an audience of around 2,000 Hindus about a number of common concerns. These included the vital role religion contributes to the common good, the importance of supporting family life, the education of children and young people and the understanding and valuing of different cultures and traditions.

Before departing, Archbishop Nichols presented Yogvivek Swami with a special candle, ‘a sign of the lovely light of God in our lives and a sign of the prayer which, in return, we offer to God’. Yogvivek Swami also presented Archbishop Nichols with a memento of his visit to the Mandir.

The Archbishop’s speech to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir can be downloaded in Word format here (scroll to foot of page).

Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk

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Written by Luke Coppen

November 24, 2009 at 12:03 pm

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