Preston street renamed: Welcome to Pramukh Swami Place
A section of Ribble Bank Street in Preston has been given a new name, in honour of the man who inspired one of the city's two Hindu temples.
From now on part of the road will be known as Pramukh Swami Place in honour of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj who died in 2016.
The re-naming decision was formally approved by Preston City Council in October and now a new sign has been erected.
Kailash Parekh, a volunteer at the city Mandir (temple), said, “This Mandir is a gift from Pramukh Swami Maharaj, not only for the people of this community, but for people across the county. He lived and taught: 'In the joy of others lies our own.' We are truly humbled that part of Ribble Bank Street has been renamed to pay tribute to his long life of selfless service."
She continued: "He blessed and inspired countless lives during his many visits to Preston, and we pray that the lasting legacy of the temple and the renaming of the road will continue to inspire generations to come.”
The temple is part of the same Hindu denomination, called BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), which created the Neasden Temple in London.
The road's name change coincides with celebrations marking the centenary of the birth of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who was the fifth spiritual successor of denomination founder Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
Tarun Patel, another temple volunteer, said: “All of us would like to offer our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Preston City Council and the people of the borough in supporting this much-welcomed change.”
A Temple spokesperson said the council had acknowledged the Mandir’s position and contribution to the local community in Preston, as well as its contribution to the borough, which was evidenced by the Mandir’s support of the vulnerable during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that Pramukh Swami Maharaj had "dedicated his life to serving and inspiring others for the greater good of humanity...He was loved and respected as one of the great religious teachers of our time."
The first BAPS temple in Preston was established in 1984, in a disused synagogue. As the size of the congregation and number of visitors grew, the need for a larger facility led to the creation of the current temple on Ribble Bank Street on November 8, 2015. It has since become a focal point for educational, community and spiritual events.
Coun Robert Boswell, Preston City Council's cabinet member for environment and community safety, said: “The BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir’s position and contribution to the local community in Preston, and in particular their support of vulnerable residents during the Covid19 pandemic, contributed to the exceptional circumstances surrounding the decision to approve this application.
“Earlier this year, the request to change the name of part of Ribble Bank Street to Pramukh Swami Place was considered in recognition of the Mandir’s contribution to the area, the position that their premises occupies on the street and importantly to celebrate the 100th birthday of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj on 7 December this year. We’re happy the new name plates are now in place and thank everyone, including the residents of Ribble Bank Street, for their co-operation in making this happen.”
The council noted that Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the guru and Pramukh, or president, of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, a major branch of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya Hindu denomination.
* BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is an international community-based Hindu organisation affiliated to the United Nations. It has more than one million members, 55,000 volunteers and 3,850 centres. Its current spiritual leader is His Holiness Mahant Swami Mahara. BAPS says it "strives to build a righteous, peaceful and harmonious community that is spiritually elevated and free of addictions and violence."
For more about BAPS and the Preston Mandir see here * The Lancashire Post is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. For unlimited access to Lancashire news and information online, you can subscribe here.