• Saturday, January 28, 2023

INDIA

Pramukh Swami Maharaj centenary: More than 12m pay tributes during month-long celebrations

At the festival, 250,000 children resolve to respect their parents, study sincerely and grow up to become ideal citizens.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial celebrations, the festival of inspiration, transformation, service, and sacrifice, officially concluded in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, on January 15, 2023, with a mass maha-arti, a colourful dance by youth, and fireworks. (Picture: BAPS Swaminarayan Santha)

By: Shubham Ghosh

His Holiness (HH) Pramukh Swami Maharaj (1921-2016), the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, was on Sunday (15) given a grand devotional tribute in the closing ceremony of his centenary celebrations in India in the divine presence of HH Mahant Swami Maharaj, his spiritual successor.

In the month-long festival, more than 12 million people visited the exhibitions and attractions at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar in Ahmedabad in the western Indian state of Gujarat and were inspired to live better lives.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj's centennial celebrations
Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial celebrations, the festival of inspiration,
transformation, service, and sacrifice, officially concluded in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, on January 15, 2023, with a mass maha-arti, a
colourful dance by youth, and fireworks. (Picture: BAPS Swaminarayan Santha)

The venue hosted a variety of exhibitions, seminars, films, shows, and other engaging events, each imparting a unique lesson from the inspiring life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Millions watched the evening assemblies held every day for the past one month, whether physically 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 his life through professional and academic conferences held at the venue.

A blood donation drive was organised over the month-long festival which kicked off on December 15, during which over 5.6 million cubic centimetres of blood was donated.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj's centennial celebrations
Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial celebrations, the festival of inspiration,
transformation, service, and sacrifice, officially concluded in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, on January 15, 2023, with a mass maha-arti, a
colourful dance by youth, and fireworks. (Picture: BAPS Swaminarayan Santha)

The ornate main gate was one of the major attractions at the celebrations with hundreds of thousands of people praising it. Besides, a 30-foot sculpted image of Pramukh Swami Maharaj; a replica of Swaminarayan Akshardham; the enchanting glow garden; the light and sound show; the Women’s Empowerment Pavilion; and other exhibitions were among other attractions.

After visiting the exhibitions, many people were inspired to give up addictions and strive for family harmony.

The event also had a profound effect on children. For example, 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 the idea of Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar hosting so many guests a reality.

Grand finale programme:

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 HH Mahant Swami Maharaj on a decorated chariot. Youth presented dance performances on stage to welcome him.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj's centennial celebrations
A devotee shares his 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. (Picture: BAPS Swaminarayan Santha)

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 the late spiritual guru and how they will always remember what he has done for them and their families. Each reiterated the point that Pramukh Swami Maharaj is always with them.

Senior BAPS swami Viveksagardas Swami then spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and the physical and mental sacrifices he made for everyone in society.

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 the society will not forget Pramukh Swami Maharaj and his work.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj's centennial celebrations
The Grand Finale Ceremony of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Centenary Celebrations, titled,
‘We Will Not Forget You’ commenced with the grand entry of His Holiness Mahant
Swami Maharaj on a decorated chariot. (Picture: BAPS Swaminarayan Santha)

Abu Dhabi Mandir project head Brahmaviharidas Swami spoke about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s construction of temples and their global footprint.

Thereafter, a video about the significance of BAPS temples, senior BAPS swami, and mahant of Gandhinagar Akshardham Anandswarupdas Swami explained how Pramukh Swami Maharaj changed the society’s landscape through festivals.

He motivated thousands of selfless volunteers, encouraged skill development, and inspired positive change, transforming society through celebrations.

A video spoke about the festivals Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired and the impact Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar has had on society.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj's centennial celebrations
Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial celebrations, the festival of inspiration,
transformation, service, and sacrifice, officially concluded in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, on January 15, 2023, with a mass maha-arti, a
colourful dance by youth, and fireworks. (Picture: BAPS Swaminarayan Santha)

The final part of the grand finale program focused on how the future will remember the contributions of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

His spirituality was beyond the boundaries of time. Each senior swami of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha then spoke about the 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.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj's centennial celebrations
Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial celebrations, the festival of inspiration,
transformation, service, and sacrifice, officially concluded in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, on January 15, 2023, with a mass maha-arti, a
colourful dance by youth, and fireworks. (Picture: BAPS Swaminarayan Santha)

Children then gathered on stage to discuss how, despite never meeting Pramukh Swami Maharaj, they found him in Mahant Swami Maharaj.

After a video introduced Mahant Swami Maharaj through testimonials, the spiritual leader 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 was 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.

“Once 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 this Earth. He is with us today and will forever remain with us.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj's centennial celebrations
His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj blesses the gathered assembly at Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centenary celebrations. (Picture: BAPS Swaminarayan Santha)

“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 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 officially concluded with a mass ‘maha-aarti’, a colorful dance by youths and fireworks.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj's centennial celebrations
Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centennial Celebration, the festival of inspiration,
transformation, service, and sacrifice, officially concluded with a mass maha-arti, a
colorful dance by youths, and fireworks. (Picture: BAPS Swaminarayan Santha)

The month-long celebration was Mahant Swami Maharaj’s vision to provide inspiration from the life, efforts, teachings, actions, and contributions of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

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