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Interview with Shyamjibhai Patel of BAPS, Swaminarayan Mandir, Antwerpen.



 
Not only the Hindu religion but all religions teach the way to lead a proper life.

religion teaches us to be correct and honest and not to cheat anyone. Truth is also very important. Religion teaches us how to tackle these tricky situations.


Shyamjibhai Patel:
First of all it is my pleasure that you are here. The Hindu religion teaches us the formal way to lead our lives as Life is very precious. Not only the Hindu religion but all religions teach the way to lead a proper life. So that is why young people, children must know religion, and that is why we have created the temple.

Marc Huybrechts:
What are the activities related to the temple?

Shyamjibhai Patel:
I have been in Antwerp since 1978 and in the beginning all the activities like Kirtan, Bhajan etc. used to take place at my house. Then more and more people started taking interest and my house became too small. Few of my friends especially Gajera and Mohan showed an interest in creating a temple. So we all got together and the temple was finally created in October 2003.

Marc Huybrechts:
What are the special activities do you have on Sundays?

Shyamjibhai Patel:
On Sunday, first of all, we have the worship session at 7 pm, but before that between 5.30 to 7.00 pm we have discourses given by volunteers from within the community. The topics are how to lead a good life. The childrens activities are handled by Amita Sejpal and about 5 other ladies. There are about 65 children who are regularly given training in dance, religion, education, Dutch, English and Gujarati.

In business, religion teaches us to be correct and honest and not to cheat anyone. Truth is also very important. Sometimes you may ask me a question which I cannot answer you without lying. Religion teaches us how to tackle these tricky situations. Religion also teaches us to be truthful to your wife and children. There should be total trust and the relationship with each to other. Religion also teaches that you neither think bad for anyone nor bad thoughts should enter your mind.

Marc Huybrechts:
Did you have difficulties in raising the temple?

Shyamjibhai Patel:
There were many people interested in participating financially and physically as well. A number of volunteers joined to create the temple, so there was a shortage of funds. Some of my friends came forward to help financially. So that was a great help.

Marc Huybrechts:
When you came to Belgium many years ago what were the difficulties you faced ?

Shyamjibhai Patel:
The main difficulty was the availability of Indian food, there was no Indian shop. But there was never any difficulty in communicating with local people.

The school was of course a problem. There was an English school at the Jacob Jordan Straat. It was a private school and most children were going there. There was also the British school and the American school, but they were a little more expensive.
 
 
Marc Huybrechts:
What about the education of children, how difficult was that ?



Shyamjibhai Patel:
The school was of course a problem. There was an English school at the Jacob Jordan Straat. It was a private school and most children were going there. There was also the British school and the American school, but they were a little more expensive. So although this was a problem but it was still manageable.

Marc Huybrechts:
Tell me something about the Ganesh Festival ?

Shyamjibhai Patel:
Temple does Ganesh Festival as the main activity apart from this children activity. It grows when children gets culture and knowledge as well as they go on correct way. Diwali, Navratri, Holi and mahashivratri is also celebrated in temple.

Marc Huybrechts:
What are the relations with Belgium Civic Authority ?

Shyamjibhai Patel:
We are very thankful to city in participating in Ganesh Festival, they help us with police and ambulance facility. They try to satisfy with all services whatever is asked.

I, till now in my life, never tasted wine or beer, for me this all things does not exit and I don't need them. Mostly people don’t drink in our religion but there are always some exceptional.
Marc Huybrechts:
Please tell me the relation between europe religion and your religion of consumption beer and alcohol.

Shyamjibhai Patel:
I, till now in my life, never tasted wine or beer, for me this all things does not exit and I don't need them. Mostly people don’t drink in our religion but there are always some exceptional.

Marc Huybrechts:
Does your religion also participate in cultural events here with local people ?

Shyamjibhai Patel:
Yes we do like many times childrens go for dancing and participating for the occasion of Independence Day, Republic Day, Gandhi Jayanti.

Marc Huybrechts:
Can you explain the meaning Baps the name of temple ?

Shyamjibhai Patel:
It's Bapcha Ashar Purshutam Sanstha the short name to make people easy. When main guru separated then temple was made in bauchsen village in Gujarat.

Marc Huybrechts:
Have you build temple all over world ?

Shyamjibhai Patel:
There are 1100 temples in 56 countries. Great temple is in London. Mandir is a public place open for everybody. There is many visitors from Stad Antwerpen group of 25 people on every Wednesday from 5-5:30 and our volunteer explains about hindusium and also offers them small refreshments.

Marc Huybrechts:
Would you like to participate next year in celebrating sentdri of first world war in Antwerp ? This ceremony is not limited to christians but islams and all other relegion will be participating, so would you also wants to participate ?

Shyamjibhai Patel:
OF course we would like to participate and we will have small childerns performance. 40000 Indian soldiers died in Flanderens and north France 100 years ago! It's all forgotten ?
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