Cycle challenge at Neasden Temple raises thousands for India
- Credit: Himesh Dhorajiwala
Neasden Temple's UK community has peddled its way to raising £600,000 in six days to help the covid relief effort in India.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir began a ‘Cycle to Save Lives in India’ campaign – a 48-hour, non-stop static relay cycle challenge over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Around 787 participants cycled during the day and throughout the night from May 1 to May 3 at BAPS Swaminarayan mandirs in London, Chigwell and Leicester as part of a relay.
They aimed to cover 7,600 kilometres – the distance between London and Delhi – but ended up almost tripling that by cycling 20,127 kilometres.
India is experiencing an unrelenting surge in infections and deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, with its hospitals coming under extreme pressure from shortages of oxygen and critical care beds.
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Cycles were arranged outside the mandirs and were thoroughly sanitised after every use.
Ketan Patel, one of the cyclists, said it was "heart-breaking watching the news about the situation in India" and wanted to do something to help. "I thoroughly enjoyed cycling in the early hours of the morning. It reminded me of those brave medics and volunteers working day and night in India.”
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Radhika Kholia, a volunteer who was logging the distance covered by each cyclist as well as sanitising the bikes, added: “Our hearts and prayers go out to all those suffering in India during this Covid surge.
"Although we are thousands of kilometres away from them, every distance logged from the cyclists brought us closer together."
Dr Mayank Shah, a trustee for BAPS said they were "blown away" by the community support.
"More than 14,000 people have donated to this cause," he said. "We’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to each and every one of these supporters as well as all of our cyclists and tireless volunteers for making this event so fruitful.”
Yogvivekdas Swami, head of the mandir in London, added: “It’s a tragedy anywhere in the world when lives are being impacted by this deadly virus.
"We have to work together as one human community, because, ultimately, the only way we will be safe here is if everyone is safe everywhere.”
To support the campaign visit justgiving.com/campaign/indiacovidcycleappeal or email firstname.lastname@example.org.