Mandir History

Our Sampraday
The Swaminarayan Sampraday has grown strongly under the guidance of the Acharya Maharaj Shri, respected saints and elders.  Over a short period of time the message of Lord Swaminarayan has spread to all corners of the world. 

 

The respected saints guided our ancestors in their lives and in their migration from east to west.  Our ancestors suffered great hardships to secure a comfortable and prosperous life for the future generations, for which we will be eternally grateful.  They did this with complete single-minded faith and trust in Lord Swaminarayan.  Today, we reap the rewards of their courage and efforts.


Migration to the UK
In the early 1900s, prospects and employment in Kutch, a district in North West India, were poor.  As a result, the Kanbi communities in Kutch struggled and times were hard. 

 

Opportunities were identified in East Africa and many Indians were leaving India to work in Africa.  Respected Head Saints of Bhuj Mandir, Sadguru Swami Shreevallabhdasji and Sadguru Swami

 

Nilkanthdasji, along with elder members of the community urged satsangis to go to East Africa for their future and well being of their families. Thousands of Kanbis left the villages of Kutch and went to countries like Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania for work.

 

In the latter half of the 20th Century, Kanbis were well established in the British colonies of East Africa.  Having resided in East Africa for several years, they had the right to become British citizens.  Many grasped this opportunity and secured their future.  This enabled the Kanbis who had settled in East Africa to migrate to the United Kingdom.

 

Sadguru Swami Shreevallabhdasji
Sadguru Swami Nilkanthdasji
Settlement in Oldham
The first Kanbis came and settled in Oldham in 1965.  The level of education was basic.  Oldham was the global centre of the cotton and textile industry.  The cotton mills in the area offered many job opportunities.  The jobs were secure, indoor and provided a steady income. Over a short period of time, the Kanbi community became strong as more and more people arrived into the town. In the past the Kanbi community has gone through years of difficulty in India and East Africa.  As a result of the vision and direction of great saints we are now all very well placed in society.  Kanbis have excelled in various walks of life through education, hard work and dedication.


Shree Swaminarayan Temple Oldham
Religion and belief in God was a key part of the satsangis that settled in Oldham.  Originally, religious sabhas were held at the Music Hall in Werneth Park as satsangi numbers grew to nearly 500.  The Late Mahant Swami of Bhuj, Shastri Swami Dharmajeevandasji often sent prasad to satsangis in Oldham from India, which was then distributed within the community.

 

Acharya Maharaj Shri Tejendraprasadji visited Oldham in 1976 and suggested that we should build a temple in Oldham and firmly establish the Swaminarayan satsang in Oldham. Acharya Maharaj Shri presented a divine murti of Lord Swaminarayan to the satsangis of Oldham. This very same murti of Lord Swaminarayan is residing in the centre of our temple sinhasan today.

 

With the blessings of His Holiness Acharya Maharaj Shri Tejendraprasadji and the Late Mahant Shastri Swami Dharmajeevandasji and other great saints of Bhuj Mandir, a Baptist Church on Lee Street was bought in June 1977.  It was so derelict that everything was stripped to the bricks and then renovated. All the satsangis, including children, worked day and night to have the temple completed for an official opening before Diwali of that year.  With all the time and effort put in by the satsangis, the temple was completed well before Diwali.  The official opening was on 22nd October 1977. 

Oldham temple was the third Swaminarayan temple in the UK.  It was the first Swaminarayan temple to hold prayer services 7 days a week both mornings and evenings.  The temple has been open for darshan every single day since the opening.

 

The elders were keen to maintain the mother tongue Gujarati alive amongst the youngsters.  Therefore, a Sunday Gujarati school was formed when the temple opened.  This school was the first to be established amongst the Swaminarayan temples of England.  The first classes commenced in November 1977.

In October 1980, a new altar was shipped from India and installed in the temple.  The altar weighed a staggering two tonnes, costing £4,000 and standing 16ft high.  It is hand carved out of teak and took 40 satsangis one week to put together.  It was one of the first of its kind in Britain.

 

Oldham Sinhasan