‘Together we can gain respect’ was the message that stood out on the world’s largest finger painting as dedicated BAPS volunteers led a community initiative in London to bring people from various backgrounds together for a hands-on interactive activity to raise awareness for respect.
Volunteers from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London, and the local community took part in the world’s largest finger painting as part of this year’s Brent Respect Festival organised by the Brent Council. The new Guinness World Record was set on Sunday 8 July 2007 at Roundwood Park in Harlesden with the completed painting measuring a huge 16,400 sq. ft., smashing the previous world record of 12,550 sq. ft. set in Spain last year.
Jignesh Patel, a local artist and BAPS devotee, based the themes on values such as respect, peace, love, unity and tolerance, and also incorporated Brent and London icons such as Wembley Stadium and the London Eye. Even the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics got a mention. Jignesh says that he was inspired by the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, whose credo in life is, “In the joy of others, lies our own.”
Over 650 people of all age groups finger painted on 10 integrated pieces of canvas, each measuring 10 feet by 164 feet, sprawled out on the lawns of Roundwood Park. The painting commenced at 10.30am and was completed by 6.15pm – in less than eight hours.
The sight of a young three-year-old toddler and the oldest participant of 86 years prompted the Mayor of Brent, Cllr. Harshadbhai Patel, to join in the finger painting himself and remark, “I am proud of the residents of Brent who have taken part in this project. It is so nice to see the community coming together to create this record. I would particularly like to thank BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha who have organised this painting.”
The well-known British TV broadcaster, Louis Theroux, also took part in the painting and commented that the painting was a fabulous artistic achievement, “very much in line with the Neasden Mandir that I have heard so much about.”
The good weather allowed hundreds of locals to enjoy the record-breaking attempt and every participant was presented with a certificate for their efforts. In the closing ceremony at 7.30pm, the Deputy Mayor of Brent Cllr. Fox helped children release balloons and wished BAPS the very best in achieving a new world record.
On Sunday 29 July 2007, during the Guru Poonam festival at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, a special assembly was held to thank all those who were involved in the creation of the world’s largest finger painting. The Worshipful Mayor of Brent Harshadbhai Patel was present and on behalf of all the residents of Brent, he thanked BAPS for their efforts in organising this initiative. As well as thanking all the sponsors and supporters, Yogvivek Swami congratulated the BAPS volunteers for bringing the local community together and helping to inspire respect for one another.
The Guinness World Record certificate was also displayed for all those present. The certificate reads:
The largest finger painting measured
1,523 m2 (16,400 ft2) and was created
by 650 people from the local community
at an event organised by
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Sanstha
at the Brent Respect Festival
in Roundwood Park, London, UK, on 8 July 2007.
The painting theme,
inspired by HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj,
was ‘Respect for One Another’ and ‘Unity in Diversity.’