Oldham Mandir History
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 1978, the temple Sports Club was formed to encourage youngsters to attend temple and play their part in the satsang. There were originally 40 members, some of whom are members even to this day. 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.