Raksha Bandhan: Police thanked at poignant Hindu peace ceremony at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury in wake of shootings across borough

Hindu spiritual leader Acharaya Swamishree Maharaj gives prasad - consecrated sweets - to Brent boro

Hindu spiritual leader Acharaya Swamishree Maharaj gives prasad - consecrated sweets - to Brent borough commander Simon Rose. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

Senior police joined Hindu leaders at a celebration of peace, tolerance and unity in Kingsbury’s Shree Swaminarayan Mandir temple on Wednesday night.

Guests at the Raksha Bandhan event at the
Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury. Picture: Jonathan Go

Guests at the Raksha Bandhan event at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

Poignantly, it came days after a triple shooting down the road left three people injured – something speakers at the ceremony had little choice but to address.

Raksha Bandhan is a tradition that celebrates siblings’ relationships, where sisters tie a “rakhi” (bracelet) on their brothers’ wrists that symbolises protection.

The opening night of the festival, which culminates in a special celebration on Sunday, started with a candle-lighting ceremony as a symbol of promoting peace. The idea was to thank those in society who serve to protect these values.

Assistant Met commissioner Neil Basu, Brent borough commander Simon Rose and Brent North MP Barry Ga

Assistant Met commissioner Neil Basu, Brent borough commander Simon Rose and Brent North MP Barry Gardiner with spiritual leader Acharaya Swamishree Maharaj and guests at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, Kingsbury. - Credit: Archant

That’s why the Met’s assistant commissioner Neil Basu and borough commander Det Ch Supt Simon Rose were among the invited guests.


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“My profession is one of the greatest professions in the greatest city and one of the greatest police services in the world,” Mr Basu told the guests.

“It is so much more than just a job – it is a vocation I live 24/7, 365 days a year.

Met assistant commissioner Neil Basu and Brent borough commander Simon Rose light candles at the Rak

Met assistant commissioner Neil Basu and Brent borough commander Simon Rose light candles at the Raksha Bandhan ceremony. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

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“One of the most important services is to look out for society’s most vulnerable people in the most vulnerable times of their lives.

“Service to others is the best way to live one’s life.”

Det Ch Supt Rose added: “We at the police are so grateful for the work of the Hindu community.

Met assistant commissioner Neil Basu and Brent borough commander Simon Rose at the
Shree Swaminaray

Met assistant commissioner Neil Basu and Brent borough commander Simon Rose at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

“Faith is an enormous positive influence society should be grateful for.

“The building of community collaboration and the promoting of peace and tolerance is so important in these difficult times. Thank you for everything you do.”

Speaking on behalf of Hindus, temple trustee Dr Mahesh Varsani told of the importance of the local police for being able to provide the Indian community with “raksha” (protection) and for looking out for society’s most vulnerable people.

Met assistant commissioner Neil Basu has a white paagh tied during the Raksha Bandhan ceremony. Pict

Met assistant commissioner Neil Basu has a white paagh tied during the Raksha Bandhan ceremony. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

“Society will improve,” he added, “but only when individuals within it improve their own conduct.”

Brent North MP Barry Gardiner also attended the ceremony.

He paid tribute to the police in the wake of a string of shootings in Brent over the summer.

Assistant Met commissioner Neil Basu, Brent borough commander Simon Rose and Brent North MP Barry Ga

Assistant Met commissioner Neil Basu, Brent borough commander Simon Rose and Brent North MP Barry Gardiner with spiritual leader Acharaya Swamishree Maharaj at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, Kingsbury. - Credit: Archant

Three people were shot outside Kingsbury Tube station on Monday night.

A shooting in Stonebridge at the end of May left a young man seriously injured.

And father of two Leon Reid was fatally shot in Queensbury on May 1.

Members of the Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Academy of Performing Arts, at the Raksha Bandhan ceremon

Members of the Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Academy of Performing Arts, at the Raksha Bandhan ceremony. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

The MP told the crowd: “Our thoughts are sent out to them after the recent shootings in our community just down the road, and over the past couple of months.

“We must pay real tribute to them and the officers of their force for the way in which they respond to crime and violence in our city in some of the most difficult conditions where they are constrained in terms of finance and resource.

“They always respond immediately.”

Members of the Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Academy of Sport, at the Raksha Bandhan ceremony. Picture

Members of the Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Academy of Sport, at the Raksha Bandhan ceremony. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg - Credit: Jonathan Goldberg

He added: “Your life is nothing unless it is service to others. It’s about the bonds of love within a family. It’s about the bonds of love within a community.

“And that is what your mandir has brought here to the heart of Kingsbury.”

During the night, global spiritual leader Acharya Swamishree Maharaj tied a sacred bracelet to the officers to show gratitude for the work of the police across the country.

Spiritual leader Acharya Swamishree Maharaj ties a bracelet around the wrist of assistant Met commis

Spiritual leader Acharya Swamishree Maharaj ties a bracelet around the wrist of assistant Met commissioner Neil Basu to show gratitude for the work of the police across the country. - Credit: Archant

They were also adorned with a white paagh (turban), which is one of the highest honours in the religion.

Dr Varsani told guests the spiritual leader’s teachings inspire Hindus to help society by being involved in charitable initiatives like blood donation or raising money for local, national or international causes.

Shree Swaminarayan Mandir is also the world’s first eco-friendly temple.

Assistant Met commissioner Neil Basu was adorned with a white paagh - the highest honour in the Hind

Assistant Met commissioner Neil Basu was adorned with a white paagh - the highest honour in the Hindu religion. - Credit: Archant

This week’s celebration was part of preparations for the Raksha Bandhan on Sunday, which also marks the fourth anniversary of the temple’s opening.

It is expected to see thousands of Hindus to come together to celebrate and to receive the spiritual leader Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s blessing.

The Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury is run by the Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan branch of the religion.

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