Mahant Swami Maharaj visits Chicago

Mahant Swami Maharaj welcomed at BAPS Mandir in Bartlett
BAPS Mahant 1 web
Mahant Swami Maharaj welcomed at BAPS Mandir in Bartlett

CHICAGO: Mahant Swami Maharaj was accorded a grand welcome on July 7 at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chicago by thousands of devotees and well-wishers.

Swamishri’s arrival marked the beginning of a 13-day celebration between July 7 and July 19 that commemorated Swamishri’s first visit to Chicago after becoming the guru of BAPS.

Swamishri’s vicharan was highlighted by grand celebrations held on consecutive weekends during his stay. July 9 marked the first Guru Purnima celebrations since Mahant Swami Maharaj became the guru of devotees of BAPS. Throughout the day, devotees offered their heartfelt prayers and devotion to Swamishri.

The following weekend, on July 16, devotees gathered to celebrate Pramukh Swami Maharaj Din. Various programs throughout the day highlighted the life, work, and lasting legacy of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. It was an opportunity for all to reflect on the indelible impact that Pramukh Swami Maharaj has left on the hearts and minds of so many.

Various other events throughout Swamishri’s visit included special programs for children and youth (Shishu Din, Bal-Balika Din, Kishore-Kishori Din, and Yuvak-Yuvati Din), a women’s cultural program (Mahila Din), and a two-day family shibir focusing on strengthening family unity.

Thirteen days in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj left devotees of all ages with countless experiences and memories that will foster their spiritual growth for years to come.

Reflecting on these profound experiences, Manisha Pandya of Columbus, OH said, “My favorite program was on Shishu Din which focused specifically on kids under the age of 4. For as long as I can remember, Swamishri has always had tremendous love for children and youth. I have two young sons, and it was wonderful to see how effortlessly he interacted with the young performers.”

Governor’s presence
It was a day of reflection and celebration at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Bartlett, IL on Sunday, July 16. Devotees and well-wishers, along with the Governor of Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner, came together to celebrate the life of their beloved guru, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who passed away on August 13, 2016. The event was held in the presence of the current guru of BAPS, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.

During the celebration assembly, the audience was transported to Sarangpur, India, where Swamishri spent the final three years of his life. Through dances, speeches, skits, and video presentations, the program highlighted Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s extraordinary qualities as a leader and spiritual guide in line with the theme: “He Pramukh Swami Roon Tamaru” (“O Pramukh Swami, we are forever grateful to you”).

Attending the program were Bruce Rauner, Governor of Illinois, as well as Kevin Wallace, Mayor of Bartlett, IL. Addressing the assembly Governor Rauner said, “Together we help each other to make our world a better place and a better future for our children and our grandchildren.”

Similar sentiments were conveyed by Mayor Wallace, who stated, “I can’t say enough of what BAPS in Bartlett has done for our community.”

Several other city mayors and representatives from surrounding communities including Carol Stream, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, West Chicago, Schaumburg and Oak Brook were also in attendance for Sunday’s celebration, each of whom presented His Holiness with a ‘Key to the City.’

The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is a worldwide spiritual and humanitarian organization that is dedicated to community service, peace, and harmony. Under the guidance and leadership of Mahant Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is free of addictions as well as

Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj is the sixth and current spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He was ordained a swami by Yogiji Maharaj in 1961 and named Sadhu Keshavjivandas. As he was

appointed the head (Mahant) of the Mandir in Mumbai, he became known as Mahant Swami. Maharaj travels throughout the world inspiring people through his insightful spiritual discourses and disciplined conduct.

Vinod Shah

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