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Leicester Local History

In 1962, as saints from India began to settle in the UK, they sought to organise congregations in which they could eulogise the Formless Almighty. As a result of a request in the Sant Nirankari magazine by Bhag Mal Ji, addresses of saints residing in the UK were dispatched from India, including those of Sukhjinder Singh Ji, Gian Singh Ji, Pritam Singh Roopra Ji, Gurprakash Ji and Mrs. Bhanga Ji. A few of these saints and their families began to meet and worship the Almighty. By 1963, this collective group of saints began to hold regular congregations and meetings. When time permitted, congregations were held in Smethwick (Birmingham), Leicester and Slough at the residences of these respected saints.

1967, saw the first visit by His Holiness Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji to the country. Throughout the late 1960's, Samagams (national congregations) were held in honour of Baba Ji. These included venues such as Leicester's Edward Wood Hall and St Saviours School.

Although saints in Leicester assembled together to worship the Almighty at least once a week at various local saints residences and Taylor Road School, it was not until 1978 that the Leicester Bhawan (worship hall) on Prebend Street was purchased. Prebend House was formerly a church and then part of the Royal Society for the Blind and dated back to the previous century. His Holiness Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji officially opened the Leicester Bhawan branch.

This Leicester branch of the mission also aimed to support the more deprived areas within Leicester. The Nirankari Advice Centre in Leicester was born with the vision of Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji in 1976 and under the guidance of M.S. Bhumbra Ji. It aimed to develop a harmonious and multi-racial environment for it's community and specialised in immigration and benefits advice. The city and county councils, Manpower Services Commission, the Highfields Task Force, made funding available and small businesses run by devotees, some acting as voluntary staff.

The extension hall that Her Holiness Raj Mata Ji laid the foundation stones for were completed and on 8th August, 1990 and was marked by His Holiness Satguru Baba Hardev Ji and Pujya Mata Ji. Many local dignitaries including Members of Parliament, Keith Vaz and Jim Marshall and other local sponsors of the hall attended it. His Holiness used this opportunity to pray for world peace, especially in the Middle East, and more poignantly, the troubled area of Ireland.

The Nirankari Advice Centre part of the Leicester branch has with the assistance of many members of the Leicester devotees provided the community with much needed services including, welfare advice and guidance, benefits, immigration, sport and youth activities as well as the newly established Luncheon clubs for the elderly. The NAC was and continues to be a highly successful project.

More to follow shortly