The dream and wish of Yogiji Maharaj to have a three-shikhar mandir in Mahelav, the birthplace of Shastriji Maharaj, was fulfilled by Pramukh Swami Maharaj on 22 Jan, 99.
Every morning, the 7-day festival commenced with a discourse by Pujya Viveksagar Swami on the life and work of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj - the founder of the Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS). Each discourse concluded with the blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
In the evenings a variety of culturally entertaining and enlightening programs were performed. The main festival days were on 21 & 22 Jan, 99.
The day began with a Vedic Yagna in the morning, a colorful procession of the Murtis in the afternoon, a mini-assembly with the devotees of Tithal and a grand stage presentation on the life and work of Shastriji Maharaj - 'Yagnapurush Sukhkari'.
A Vedic Yagna
The morning commenced with a Yagna, a ritual that forms a part of the Murti-pratishtha ceremony, on the precincts adjacent to the new mandir. More than 350 couples participated in the Yagna. Swamishri worshipped the murtis of Akshar Purushottam, Harikrishna Maharaj, Laxmi Narayan, Shastriji Maharaj, the disciplic succession of Gurus, Hanumanji and Ganpatiji. He also offered prayers for world peace.
A Grand, Colorful Procession
A grand traditional procession of three beautifully decorated floats, camel carts, bullock carts and 300 sadhus, 1000 children, youths and devotees proceeded from the nearby village of Bandhni to Mahelav at 3.00 pm. The enthusiasm and colour was evident from the spirited singing of bhajans by sadhus and youths. A display of acrobatics by a team of expert youths attracted the attention of all. And several members of the Bal Mandal, dressed in colourful clothes, danced and chorused the Swaminarayan dhun. The women too donned in their finest saris filled the afternoon air with the auspicious singing of bhajans. It was a sight of devotion and spiritual enthusiasm. In its final part, the 1 km long procession entered and weaved through the lanes of Mahelav village before it concluded 2½ hours later outside the newly built Swaminarayan Mandir.
Since 6.00 pm devotees and well wishers had started taking their seats in the 30,000 capacity mammoth assembly hall. The evening was to see a spectacular 3 hour dramatic and musical presentation on the life and work of Shastriji Maharaj. A month long energetic preparation by a cast of 150 children and youths from Mumbai, Surat, Vadodara, Bhavnagar, Kheda district and Amdavad had finally reached its culmination.
The programme began at 8.15 pm in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. More than 30,000 devotees had arrived for the programme. The blending of prominent incidents from Shastriji Maharaj's childhood, his initiation into sainthood and his subsequent journey of trials and hardships in establishing the BAPS was exquisite. An impressive combination of video and slide presentations, dialogues and swift musical performances riveted the audience. Swamishri was touched and extremely pleased by the performance and finally gave brief blessings by praising the performers.
The Murti-pratishtha ceremony was performed in the morning by Swamishri, followed by a mammoth assembly wherein Swamishri crowned the occasion with his blessings.
The Ceremony in the Mandir
Swamishri commenced his puja at 7.00 am, earlier than usual. After puja, Swamishri installed a new marble murti of Shastriji Maharaj with Vedic rites in the small mandir that commemorates his birth place. At 9.30 pm Swamishri joined the Murti-pratishtha ceremony and worshipped the murtis of Akshar Purushottam in the central shreene, Harikrishna Maharaj and Laxminarayan in the first shreene and a marble murti of Shastriji Maharaj in the third shreene. The Swaminarayan Dhun, sung by Swamishri on a microphone for the first time during such a ceremony was fervently chorused by the devotees participating in the rituals. During this time petals of flowers were showered from a chartered plane circling the mandir. On concluding the Dhoon, Swamishri blessed all the devotees with happiness and prosperity in life.
After the Murti-Pratishtha ceremony Swamishri inaugurated a large water-tank as a service to the village. Thereafter the 7-day discourse on the life of Shastriji Maharaj was concluded by Pujya Viveksagar Swami.
A wonderful dance describing the mandir was performed by teenagers of the Vidyanagar Kishore Mandal. After the customary vote of thanks, an announcement was made that Swamishri's 79th birthday for the year 1999 will be celebrated in Tithal near Valsad.
Finally the blessings of Swamishri charged the assembly. He said: 'With the blessings of Purna Purushottam shreeji Maharaj, Guru Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj the festival was made possible. Shastriji Maharaj had gone through a mountain of difficulties but he did not give up his resolve in establishing the principle of Akshar and Purushottam. We should not do satsang for the sake of anyone except for our own sake, to please God and to seek the blessings of the Guru...'
65,000 people had attended the celebration and partook of the prasad.
The celebration was the fulfillment of Yogiji Maharaj's dream. During the 7-day festival, thousands of people were enlightened about the glory of Shastriji Maharaj's socio-spiritual work for society through the spiritual assemblies, grand procession, exhibition and newspaper coverage.
"shreeji Maharaj revealed the philosophy of Akshar and Purushottam and gave it to world. Since it was the truth it has been accepted in the world.
Shastriji Maharaj endeavoured to establish the Akshar Purushottam Sanstha amdist great opposition and odds. He was a divine person, a determined person and a person of immense faith.
He never got frustrated and he never became disheartened in his mission. He spent hours in talking about satsang to people.
When we offer bhakti and seva, we should not do it for the sake of any person but solely to be blessed with Moksha, to gain God’s blessings and the grace of the Guru."