Swaminarayan Complex in Papatoetoe a gift to New Zealand communities

The state-of-the-art, multi-million dollar structure offers facilities for various events

Michael Wood and David Seymour lighting the Traditional Lamp at the new Swaminarayan Complex in Papatoetoe, South Auckland on Sunday, February 26, 2023 (David Seymour Facebook)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, February 26, 2023

The teaching of Swaminarayan will help people of this world to become compassionate towards fellow beings and promote the concept of ‘One World, One Family,’ a visiting spiritual leader has said.

Ramakrishna Das, a saint from the Swaminarayan Sampraday in Gujarat, India, said that the modern world has wrongly defined happiness as a measure of materialistic values, rather than perceiving it as a measure of human values.

“This is a world in which people lead fast lives, forgetting the needs of the less fortunate people. We are worried about being overtaken in this race and often forget the need to pause and look around. Swaminarayan taught us the importance of being in the community and making everyone happy and healthy,” he said.

Saint Ramakrishna Das was speaking at a special ceremony held today (Sunday, February 26, 2023) marking the official inauguration of the Swaminarayan (ISSO) Complex comprising a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art Community Centre Papatoetoe, South Auckland.

Mellissa Lee, Brooke van Velden, Ranjna Patel, Lotu Fuli and Jenny Salesa lighting the Traditional Lamp at the new Swaminarayan Complex in Papatoetoe, South Auckland on Sunday, February 26, 2023 (David Seymour Facebook)

Schumacher’s experience

Recounting the experience of Michael Schumacher, he said that the internationally renowned Formula One champion was humbled by the suffering of a 12-year-old boy.

“The young man was trying to stop cars passing on a highway. When his efforts to draw the attention of drivers and passengers failed, he started pelting stones. Schumacher stopped his car and asked him the reason for this agitated test.

“The young man replied, ‘Sir, my younger sister was seriously injured while playing. I want to reach her to the hospital for treatment and no one seems to be listening to my plea. That is why I am trying to draw the attention of people.’ Schumacher was moved and immediately took the wounded girl to the hospital,” he said.

Saint Ramakrishna Das said that the incident shook the heart of Schumacher and made him realise the problems suffered by others.

“Bhagwan Swaminarayan taught the importance of serving communities and those in need. He worked to assist the poor by distributing food and drinking water. He undertook several social service projects and opened homes for the poor.”

A section of the guests at the Swaminarayan Complex Inaugural Ceremony at the new Swaminarayan Complex in Papatoetoe, South Auckland on Sunday, February 26, 2023 (Radio Tarana Photo)

Dr Kanti and Ranjna Patel

Paying tributes to Dr Kanti Patel and his wife Ranjna Patel, trustees of the Swaminarayan Temple (ISSO) Complex, Saint Ramakrishna Das said that the couple has been serving communities throughout their working life. As the founders of East Tamaki Healthcare (now known as Tamaki Health), they served everyone in need of diagnosis and treatment and provided services either at low cost or free.

“Dr Kanti recently retired from his practice to devote all his time to the Temple and the new Complex. This place is the hub of religious, cultural and social activities. No one will go hungry from here. The Swaminarayan Complex is a true example of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam- the Hindu philosophy that the Whole World is a Family,” he said.

Later, a video message of Tejendraprasadji Maharaj, the Sixth Descendant of Swaminarayan and the previous Maharaj Shri greeting Dr Kanti and Ranjna Patel, the members of Swaminarayan Temple (ISSO) and the New Zealand communities, was shown.

Dr Kanti Patel speaking at the Swaminarayan Complex Inaugural Ceremony at the new Swaminarayan Complex in Papatoetoe, South Auckland on Sunday, February 26, 2023 (Radio Tarana Photo)

Uniting humanity

Mr Wood described Mt Roskill (his electorate) and Papatoetoe as the ‘Twin Capitals’ of the Indian community, which connects well with Maori and other peoples of the country.

“We are proud of the achievements of our citizens like Dr Kanti and Ranjna Patel. As we celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Swaminarayan (ISSO) Temple within this complex, we also mark the inauguration of this new multi-purpose Community Centre. This is the Centre that brings together humanity in the Hindu tradition and in the spirit of unity. Despite challenges and difficulties that we have faced, Auckland is the best city in the world,” he said.

Mr Luxon described the Swaminarayan Complex as a ‘Special and Fantastic Gift’ and praised Dr Kanti and Ranjna Patel and others associated with the facility for their services to people in need.

Mr Peters said that the new Complex symbolised commitment and service.

“The incident experienced by Michael Schumacher should be a lesson for all. We must listen to people and consult with them more and more,” he said.

Among the other speakers were Mr Seymour, Ms Salesa and Ms Lee.

Dr Patel said that since he established his medical career 50 years ago in Auckland, he has been drawn towards community service.

“I believe that I have had the best of everything in life and the best of the Hindu heritage. I was born in Kenya, educated in India and moved to New Zealand in 1973. I have learnt that every person and every situation is unique and that we must learn from them. I have also had the great fortune of learning from the teachings of the Maharaj Ji,” he said.

He said that the new Complex has had its challenges.

“The original estimate was that it would cost $1 million a month and that it would take nine months for completion. But Covid-19 and the resultant shutdowns, supply management problems, the tornado that hit the area in 2021 and other issues delayed the Project by 46 months. The cost has therefore escalated but we are grateful that we have been able to achieve our objective of completing this Complex. This will now be for all communities,” he said.

The Swaminarayan Complex offers facilities for Weddings, religious festivals, conferences, workshops and other events (Facebook Photo)

Multiple facilities

The Complex has multiple banqueting, conferencing, exhibition and other facilities with modern sound, light and other systems. With a capacity to seat about 500 people, it is open to communities to conduct weddings, parties, religious ceremonies and other events.

The Centre will cater only vegetarian food and non-alcoholic drinks.

More than 500 men and women were present at the inaugural ceremony, among whom were Transport, Workplace Relations and Safety and Immigration Minister Michael Wood, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of National Party Christopher Luxon, Members of Parliament Jenny Salesa (Labour), Melissa Lee (National), David Seymour and Brooke van Velden (ACT), New Zealand First Leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and former MPs Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Dr Parmjeet Parmar (National),  Mahesh Bindra (NZ First), Auckland Councillor Lotu Fuli (Manukau Ward) and National Party Candidate in Manurewa Siva Kilari.

Academic Manish Tanna and a family friend of Dr Kanti and Ranjna Patel, was the Master of Ceremonies, describing the various aspects of Swaminarayan ISSO, the Temple and the Complex.

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