Shree Kutch Satsang Swaminarayan Temple Bolton

Jay Swaminarayan : Shree Swaminarayan Temple Bolton

History of Swaminarayan Temple Bolton

The late 60's and early 70's saw the steady flow of people from the region of Kutch, Gujarat migrating and settling in the United Kingdom.  Times were tough in India and with the blessings of the saints of Bhuj they came to the UK in their droves to seek a better life for themselves and their families. The appeal of a prosperous new start led many to the industrial hub of the northwest of England with its cotton/manufacturing industry booming.

The town of Bolton provided a safe haven for those early settlers making their way to Bolton as early as 1965.  Whilst they had left their country, they didn't leave their culture and as the numbers grew it was only a matter of time before satsang sabhas were held in homes and later in hired halls so that they could hold religious assemblies, celebrate those significant Hindu days and indeed gather as a community.  In those early days Bolton was the focal point in that those migrating to the UK would be provided with support from the already flourishing Kutchi community and then in the subsequent years they could move on to other parts of the UK depending on their individual needs and professions.

Even though they were thousands of miles away, contact with mother India would not cease as letters were sent to and from India, keeping our beloved saints abreast of our situation and receiving their guidance and blessings every step of the way.  Indeed, H.H Nivrut Acharya Maharajshree Tejendraprasadji also made a special visit to Bolton in those early days in 1971 - such was the love that Dharmakul had for the devotees of Kutch.

As the community started to grow further it was necessary to purchase a 'place of our own' and with the guidance of our revered saints in Bhuj the original committee formed with the intent to establish a temple of our own in Bolton.  This would serve as a place of worship but more so it would be a landmark for the satsang in general, paving the way for other communities throughout the UK, serving as an investment for Satsang in the future. A disused warehouse on Adelaide Street was purchased in 1973 and shortly after was renovated for purposes of worship thus establishing the first Swaminarayan Temple in the UK.  The original murtis were then brought over from India in around 1975 (having been blessed by the then Mahant of Bhuj - Sadguru Shastri Swami Shree Dharmajivandasji) and placed in the temple for official worship.

The temple had two floors and could easily accommodate the growing numbers with the temple opening twice a day for regular worship.  Utsavs and Samaiyas regularly took place with adequate kitchen facilities to enable Prashad to be made and served. Families began to grow and therefore the temple also provided focal point for the increasing young population which could use the downstairs hall as a youth club to play snooker, table tennis and other sports/games. With the blessings of saints it was felt that for the future development of our youth, we should ensure adequate facilities were in place to culturally educate them and therefore in 1982 a Gujarati school was also established.

Being so secluded away from India the devotees and committee of Bolton felt a yearning to be reunited with the devout saints as it wasn't always possible for people to visit  India due to financial reasons or otherwise.  Therefore it was decided that we should call over saints from Bhuj to visit us here in the UK so that communities could devotionally prosper and benefit further through Satsang - communion with holy saints.  Bolton led this initiative and in 1982 arranged for the first visit of saints to the UK.  Mahant Sadguru Swami Hariswaroopdasji led the first contingent of saints, with Sadguru Morlimanohardasji, Sadguru Dharmakishordasji and others touching down on UK soil at the great delight of devotees in Bolton and indeed devotees all over the UK.  This led the way in consecrating further saintly visits over the following years.  This tradition continues today where saints continually tour the UK for

satsang sabhas in groups on a bi-annual basis.  Furthermore, the Acharya of the northern diocese HH Acharya Shree Tejendraprasadji Maharaj made further visits to Bolton and the UK over the years strengthening our relationship with the Dharmakul.  This continues even today with the current Acharya Shree Koshlendraprasadji Maharaj whose affection for the devotees of Bolton has been continued in this great tradition.

In 1983, the Bolton community had expanded significantly and the opportunity arose to purchase land surrounding the existing building complex.  The committee with the support of the public snapped up this opportunity.  With the acquisition of the land, focus was now on expanding the existing temple complex and a plan was put into place to create a revolutionary new temple which architecturally resembled a traditional temple with all the facilities becoming a modern, multi-purpose place of worship.  The plans for the proposed temple were passed with the local council and the wheels were formally put into motion in 1988 with the blessings of respected visiting elderly saint Sadguru Swami Morlimanohardasji to start and fund the building of this monumental building.  The key feature of the temple, namely the Shikhar or stone tower (carved out of the world-famous Rajesthani Jaipur Red Stone) was specially imported and assembled on site. The completion of the temple saw fruition in 1993 along with the opening of the new temple complex.  Brand new murtis of Lord Shree Sahajanand Swami,  Lord Shree Narnarayan Dev, Lord Shree Radhakrishna Dev, Lord Shree Manki Ghodi, Shree Hanumanji Maharaj and Shree Ganapati Dev were brought over from India and the installation ceremony was conducted by HH Acharya Shree Tejendraprasadji Maharaj and revered saints Mahant Swami, Dharmakishor Swami and others who made their first visit so many years ago were also keen to celebrate the opening off this new temple complex.

The new temple complex more than accommodates for the community in Bolton at present and I'm sure for future generations.  The massive three floors accommodating the temple, social/recreational hall and kitchen facilities fulfil all the needs of our community. The temple has excellent links with the local police and local government authorities.

Since the opening ceremony a number of key celebrations have taken place, attended by many thousands of people from the UK and India.  The 25th anniversary celebrations and more recently the 35th Anniversary Celebrations have been great successes - providing a benchmark for other temples in the UK to reciprocate.  The temple opens for worship twice a day, every day of the year with aarti taking place at 9am and 5pm.  Key utsav days are celebrated thoughout the year such as Ekadashis, Janma Jayantis, Patotsav, Diwali/ Annkutotsav and other religiously significant days.  Yuvak/Yuvati Mandal Satsang Sabhas take place every Friday at 7pm where around 50 youngsters congregate to learn in English about religion and our specific sect and take part singing Kirtan/Dhun.

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