• Wednesday, February 08, 2023

INDIA

UN special assembly to mark centenary of Pramukh Swami Maharaj

His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj served as president of BAPS for over 50 years.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj was president of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) movement, which considered him to be the fifth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan.

By: Pramod Thomas

The permanent mission of India to the UN and the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha will celebrate His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centenary at the UN in New York on Wednesday (7).

The one-and-a-half-hour-long special programme titled ‘The World is One Family: Life and Message of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’ will combine live speakers along with videos to showcase the impact of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life work, a statement said.

Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, the permanent representative of India to the UN, will deliver the keynote address. Several volunteers of BAPS, who have been personally inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, will also speak at the event.

The event will be live on December 8 between 2.30am and 4am IST, the statement added.

As part of the celebrations, London’s Wembley Stadium all set to light its arch in saffron on Wednesday. The Westminster City Council will install a plaque of Maharaj at Victoria Tower Garden.

Toronto mayor said that the city will observe ‘Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centennial Celebration Day’ on Wednesday. Canada minister for labour, immigration, training and skills development, Monte McNaughton, has announced that the Niagara Falls will be lit in red, white, and saffron colours.

People can witness the historic event in person or join via a broadcast which will be shared around the world. A Souvenir Book entitled ‘Pramukh Swami Maharaj centennial celebrations’ created to mark this special occasion was also inaugurated by Kirsty Duncan, MP for Etobicoke North.

William Osler, president & CEO, Health System Foundation said that a plaque honouring BAPS Charities and its founder Pramukh Swami Maharaj has been installed at Brampton Civic Hospital in the Drug Therapy & Transfusion Area in Ambulatory Oncology Services.

Canadian minister of housing and diversity and inclusion, Ahmed Hussen, said: ”Today we are here to pay tribute to the legacy of Pramukh Swami Maharaj globally, but particularly his influence in Canada. …Pramukh Swami Maharaj embodies a selflessness that is very rare to see in the world today, an unconditional love for your fellow human being, no matter their faith, background, nationality, language, or ethnic or religious considerations.

“I am so proud to join all of you to celebrate Canada’s first-ever Hindu Heritage Month, officially, and to celebrate with you the amazing legacy and luck that we have in Canada to have been touched by Pramukh Swami Maharaj.”

Sanjay Kumar Verma, high commissioner of India to Canada said: “The centenary celebrations of Pramukh Swami Maharaj are not being celebrated just in this room, but they are being celebrated in the hearts of 1.4 billion Indians. …we need more like Pramukh Swami Maharaj to unite us, to integrate us, and if we are able to do that, following his lessons and teachings we will be doing a great service to him, to the society we live in, and to ourselves.”

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau also shared words of reflection on Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s legacy of values, community service, and unity through a video message.

This centennial celebration was one of 19 celebrations held across Canada and hundreds of such events taking place not only across North America but also in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, eventually culminating in a final, month-long, grand celebration in India in December, the statement further said.

The BAPS is a worldwide spiritual and humanitarian organization which is in consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted in 2000.

Through various spiritual and humanitarian activities conducted at over 3,300 international centers under the current leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to improve the well-being of communities and is working actively to further several of the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj served as president of BAPS for over 50 years. He nurtured spirituality in the lives of hundreds of thousands throughout the world, including Canada, which he visited 13 times. His contributions to Canadian society were honored by the Canadian Parliament in 1988, and he was presented with the Key to The City of Toronto in 2000.

In his honour, thousands of Indo-Canadians, Canadian ministers, and dignitaries gathered at the International Centre Conference Hall in Toronto on November 26-27, 2022 for three events commemorating his life.

Recently, over 700 volunteers of BAPS Canada organized the centennial celebrations titled ‘Param Shanti’ (absolute peace).

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