India Post News Service
AHMEDABAD: The festival of inspiration, transformation, service and sacrifice,concluded with a spectacular grand finale.On January 15, 2023, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj was given a grand devotional tribute in the closing ceremony of the Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centenary Celebrations in the divine presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.
In the month-long festival, over 12.1 million people visited the exhibitions and attractions at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar and were inspired to live better lives. The Nagar hosted a variety of exhibitions, attractions, seminars, films, and shows, each imparting a unique lesson from the inspiring life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Millions watched the evening assemblies held every day for the past month live, whether at the Nagar or over webcast and learned about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and work from speeches given by senior swamis and dignitaries from around the world. Thousands gained inspiration from Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life through professional and academic conferences held at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar.
A blood donation drive was also organized over the month-long festival, during which over 5.6 million cc of blood was donated. Hundreds of thousands of people were impressed and humbled by the ornate main gate, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s 30-foot sculpted image, the replica of Swaminarayan Akshardham, the enchanting glow garden, the light and sound show, the Women’s Empowerment Pavilion and other exhibitions. After visiting the exhibitions, many were inspired to give up addictions and strive for family harmony. After watching the shows at the Bal Nagari, 250,000 children resolved to respect their parents, study sincerely, and become ideal citizens of the world. All who visited were in awe of the 45 departments and 80,000 volunteers inspired by Mahant Swami Maharaj who made Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar possible.
Grand Finale Program
The Grand Finale Ceremony of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Centenary Celebrations, titled, ‘We Will Not Forget You’ commenced at 5.00 pm IST. As hundreds of thousands of devotees from around the world assembled, BAPS bands played to welcome them. The assembly began with the singing of devotional hymns followed by the grand entrance of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj on a decorated chariot. Youths danced on stage to welcome Mahant Swami Maharaj.
The first part of the assembly explained how people will not be able to forget Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Selected devotees shared their personal experiences with Pramukh Swami Maharaj and how they will never be able to forget him for what he has done for them and their families. Each reiterated the point that Pramukh Swami Maharaj is always with them.
Senior BAPS swamiViveksagardas Swami then spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and the physical and mental sacrifices he made for everyone in society. Pramukh Swami Maharaj gave everyone knowledge, peace and stability. His travels were for the joy and betterment of others.
Thereafter, testimonials of visitors to Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar were shown who spoke about their unforgettable memories of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The next part of the assembly focused on how society will not be able to forget Pramukh Swami Maharaj and his work. Abu Dhabi Mandir project head Brahmaviharidas Swami spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s construction of temples and their global footprint. After a video about the significance of BAPS temples, senior BAPS swami and mahant of Gandhinagar Akshardham Anandswarupdas Swami explained how Pramukh Swami Maharaj changed society’s landscape through festivals. He motivated thousands of selfless volunteers, encouraged skill development, and inspired positive change, transforming society through celebrations. A video introduced the festivals Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired and especially the impact of Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar on society.
The final part of the grand finale program focused on how even the future will not be able to forget Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His spirituality was beyond the boundaries of time. Each senior swami of the BAPSSwaminarayan Sanstha then spoke about a quality of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Ghanshyamcharandas Swami began with a prayer, after which Tyagvallabhdas Swami spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and his gurus. Bhaktipriyadas Swami described Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s saintliness, while Swayamprakashdas Swami (Doctor Swami) illustrated how Pramukh Swami Maharaj saw everyone equally. Ishwarcharandas Swami then spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s endearing humility.
Children then gathered on stage to discuss how, despite never meeting Pramukh Swami Maharaj, they found Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Mahant Swami Maharaj. After a powerful video introducing Mahant Swami Maharaj through testimonials, Mahant Swami Maharaj blessed the gathered assembly. He said,” We saw in today’s assembly that Pramukh Swami Maharaj had cared for everyone. Thus, everyone felt that he is mine. That is why none can ever forget him, not today and not thousands of years hence.
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj had no sense of ego. Just as Pramukh Swami Maharaj never forgot his gurus, similarly we should always remember Pramukh Swami Maharaj. We were in Bamangam. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was traversing rugged terrain and I felt why is he taking so much strain on his body. Immediately, Pramukh Swami Maharaj turned to me and said, ‘Our Gurus have done this, so we should, too.’
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj had God in every pore. He was Aksharbrahma. He has not and will not ever leave from this Earth. He is with us today and will forever remain with us. “Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centenary was celebrated in a grand and divine way. By Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s grace, the festival has been completed without a hitch. By celebrating this festival, we offered our devotion to our guru. We should never forget this. This festival was not celebrated to show anyone or increase our glory.
“Whoever visited this festival, supported it or even appreciated it from afar, may God bless them. And the service and sacrifice of the volunteers and swamis cannot be forgotten. They have endured so many hardships. Without the volunteers, this would not have been possible.”
Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial celebrations were officially concluded with a mass maha-arti, a colorful dance by youths and fireworks.
The month-long celebration was His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s vision to provide inspiration from the life, efforts, teachings, actions, and contributions of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
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- Over 12.1 million visitors
- 5.6 million cc blood donated
- 250,000 children resolve to respect their parents, study sincerely and become ideal citizens
- 80,000 volunteers
- Many were inspired to transform their lives after visiting Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar over the last month.
De-addiction – Anandbhai Patni
Anandbhai Patni works as a reporter for a news channel. On December 21, he visited the Bal Nagari at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar with his family. In the Bal Nagari, his son resolved to bow to his parents every day. He received the children’s book “Let’s Become Ideal.” From the very next day, his son started following his resolutions to be an ideal child.
As he was reading the book, he came across a page about addictions. He showed it to his father and inspired his father to give up his addiction. Not only that, but the next day, Anandbhai’s child took the book to school and showed it to his fellow students and teachers and talked about his new resolutions and the shows at the Bal Nagari. On December 22, Anandbhai returned to the Bal Nagari in the evening and took live video coverage of the festival.
Maheshbhai Gaveriya (25 years old)
Maheshbhai lives in Dhandhuka and has a woodcutting business. He was addicted to chewing tobacco (gutka). He was inspired by a devotee, Saumilbhai Chauhan, to serve at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar, even though it was difficult for him to take leave from his business. At the Nagar, he volunteered for a week in the decoration department. Overwhelmed by the Nagar, and after serving alongside devotees and swamis, Maheshbhai gave up his addiction and vowed to live an addiction-free life.
Ghar Sabha – Rajdan Gadhvi
“Despite being the guru of such a large organization, Pramukh Swami Maharaj looked after the needs and paid attention to the concerns, worries and anxieties of every person. After watching the “Broken Hearts, Broken Homes” show, I believe that as the head of the house, if I learn to understand my family members, then our family life will be transformed. We must regularly do gharsabhas [home assemblies] and meet together as a family. I have taken this resolution today.”
Letting Go of Anger – Laxmanbhai Parmar, Sarkhej
“Every performance and exhibition here at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar is outstanding. I don’t have an addition, but the children spoke to me about letting go of my anger. Usually, elders teach the young. But here, the children teach everyone. After coming to the Nagar, I have resolved never to lose my temper with anyone again.”
Eating Together – Sandhyaben Sunilbhai Sahadi, Surat
“Seeing so many people I know going to Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar, I also decided to visit. I enjoyed the shows and exhibitions and learned about the importance of family unity. I have resolved to make sure my family eats together every day.”