79th Birthday Celebrations of Pramukh Swami Maharaj:
On 16th December, 1999, the 4- day birthday celebration of Swamishri culminated in a huge adivasi convention in the morning and a grand festival in the evening.
The evening saw a spectacular dramatical presentation depicting the stories of moral transformations inspired by Lord Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The entire evening was charged with divinity and inspiration.
More than 200,000 devotees and well-wishers from the USA, UK & Europe, Africa and all over India gathered to offer their reverence to Swamishri. Elegant folk dances added further color and flair to the evening celebration.
The program culminated with Swamishri's blessings. He spoke on the profound greatness and glory of God - " God is the all-doer. It is His power that prevails. A single leaf cannot flutter without His wish. One who is arrogant or egoistic can never experience peace and happiness. We need to discard our ego in order to earn the blessings of God and His holy sadhu…We need faith (shraddha) - even in practical matters. When we sow a mango tree, water it and persevere after it, it is with the faith that it will bear fruit after 5 years..In industry, setting up a factory requires faith - you do not get any returns immediately... so it is with faith in God." Swamishri then concluded with prayers for world peace, and the health and wealth of our nation.
Swamishri's birthday celebration crowned the 4 day spiritual in Valsad. The entire festival was a striking celebration of Swamishri's untiring spiritual and philanthropic services to society.
Tribal Convention, Valsad:
On the morning of 16th December 1999, a grand convention of 20,000 tribals from southern Gujarat took place at the 55-acre 'Swaminarayan Nagar' in Valsad. The convention was an eloquent testimony to the moral and spiritual elevation that Pramukh Swami Maharaj has inspired in the lives of thousands of tribals. The assembly included enlightening addresses, colorful traditional tribal folk dances, and devotional bhajans. On this occasion, Shri Kanjibhai Patel, State Minister for Forest and Environment, talked gloriously of the untiring efforts of His Holiness. And Shri Pankajkumar, Collector of Valsad, underscored the necessity of de-addiction and morality in the tribal areas. Also present was Shri L.M.Singhvi, Member of Parliament and former Ambassador of India to the UK. He spoke in high esteem of Pramukh Swami Maharaj's wide range of socio-spiritual services and called upon other organizations to take inspiration from BAPS. In his blessings to the gathering, Swamishri first appreciated the tribals who had traveled from far and wide to be present in the convention today. Swamishri then explained,"God is 'Adi' - the primary Being. You, the adivasis, live in the lap of God's nature. You are exposed to pure air, clean water and natural light. Since you are living near God, it beholds you to live a life that pleases Him. God does not reside with us if we are shackled by superstitions, addictions, and mundane infatuations. May God bless you all with goodness and happiness in life…" Swamishri was then warmly honored by the tribal community and state ministers. The tribal natives, dressed in their traditional garbs, felt so happy and excited that they put up a spontaneous dance in front of Swamishri.
HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s 79th Birthday Celebrations at Valsad were a tribute to his extensive socio-spiritual services for society. The mission of transforming the lives of people and not their faith has always been the motto and spirit of Swamishri’s services. Regardless of caste or status, Swamishri travels to inspire and ameliorate the lives of thousands. A noteworthy contribution to society is Swamishri’s efforts in reforming the Adivasis (tribals) of the Panchmahal, Sabarkantha, Selvas and Dang districts of Gujarat. During the celebrations, the Tribal Convention hosted Adivasi devotees. Moral changes in the lives of Adivasis reflect the efforts of Swamishri.
A Bhil from Dahod voiced the change Satsang has brought in his life: “Ours is a backward class community of Bhils. Formerly, I used to catch rabbits and eat them. But things changed when Swaminarayan sadhus of the Akshar Purushottam order came to our village. They told us to refrain from killing animals and eating meat. But thinking they were just cheap sadhus I did not pay heed to their words. But in 1983 I happened to go to the 63rd birthday celebration festival of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Mumbai. On seeing him I was inspired and pledged a change in life. I got initiated into Satsang in 1983. There was a time when I used to beg for food but now I have enough to give. My financial status has changed and my life has been reformed.”
Kalubhai Damjibhai Choudhary of Nanaponda village narrated his story of transformation,“Our homes were so steeped in liquor drinking and meat-eating that we were a notorious lot in the whole village. When we sat down for lunch we would have 20 bottles of liquor and 2 to 4 hens. But today I feel repentful for my acts. If I had met Pramukh Swami Maharaj before 1992, my career would have been a lot more different from what it is now. I was the first in the village to have passed 10th grade, but because of my addiction to liquor no one was ready to employ me. So one day in a fit of anger I threw all my certificates, upto 12th grade, into a fire. I was depressed and frustrated in life. I was on the verge of committing suicide. But, in 1992 I came to meet Swamishri at Selvas. And a new light dawned on my life’s horizon.”
The 79th birthday celebration of Swamishri and the Swaminarayan Mandir in Kosamba (Tithal) has undoubtedly enhanced moral and spiritual changes in the lives of Tandels, Adivasis and the masses at large.
The first day of the festival, 13th December, began on an auspicious note with a mass marriage ceremony. Seventy - three couples tied the nuptial knot in traditional fashion under one great marriage canopy. The ceremony was a demonstration of the spirit of equality and brotherhood among devotees. Of the 73 couples, 24 were adivasi couples, 31 were from the local Tandel region, and also a couple from South Africa and England. The festival also successfully hosted a health diagnostic camp, a blood donation camp. And an anti-addiction camp. During the 4 days, a total of 252 visitors were treated at the health camp; 176 bottles of blood were collected and passed on to the Red Cross in Valsad; and over 4,800 people gained by visiting the anti-addiction camp. Poised on the threshold of the year 2000, the festival also offered prayers for family harmony and world peace through a mammoth yagna on 14th December. Two thousand tribals and devotees from India and abroad participated in the Vedic Yagna. On the afternoon of 14th December, a 1½ kilometers long Nagar Yatra weaved through Valsad. The 3 hour procession included majestic floats, dancing troupes, tribal performers and women carrying pots with water from 108 holy rivers. More than 10,000 devotees participated in the grand parade. The morning of 15th December saw the Diksha ceremony take place. Forty seven youths were initiated into the holy order by Pramukh Swami Maharaj - 12 youths received 'parshadi diksha' and 35 received 'bhagwati diksha'. These 47 initiated youths are highly educated, including one finance graduate from Dallas (USA), one college student from London, 17 graduates, one MBBS doctor, an MSW (Masters in Social Work), and an MA in literature. The same day, a Mahabhishekh (ceremony of oblations) was performed on the sacred murtis of Lord Swaminarayan, Radha-Krishna Dev, Sita-Ram Dev, Shiv-Parvatiji, Hanumanji, and Ganpatiji at the seaside Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, Kosamba. Swamishri also prayed to Lord Swaminarayan to bless and protect devotees staying across the seas from this mandir on the sea-shore, and predicted that Tithal would become a pilgrim center for devotees. On the morning of 16th December - Swamishri's birthday - he inaugurated the sanstha's new web site - www.swaminarayan.org, after his morning puja. Designed and formulated by saints and volunteers, this site has built on the experience and feedback from the previous site and has many added features. The 79th Birthday Celebrations of Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj concluded in a grand ambience of moral, social and spiritual inspiration - perfectly reflecting his life and work.
13 December 1999, Monday (V.S. 2056 Magshar Sud 5)
8.00 am - 12.00 noon: A dowry-free Mass Marriage of 73 couples, including tribal couples, took place at the beginning of the four-day celebrations
14 December 1999, Tuesday (V.S. 2056 Magshar Sud 6)
8.00 am - 12 noon: Yagna for World Peace
3.00 pm - 6.00 pm: Nagar Yatra - A Grand Procession
Evening: Kirtan Aaradhna by saints
15 December 1999, Wednesday (V.S. 2056 Magshar Sud 7)
9.00 am - 11.30 am: Initiation (Diksha) ceremony of 47 youths into holy order.
12 Noon : Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Maha-Abhishek by HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
5.00 pm - 7.00 pm: Women's Convention
16 December 1999, Thursday (V.S. 2056 Magshar Sud 8)
8.30 am - 11.30 am: Mammoth Tribal Get-Together Assembly
(20,000 tribals from Gujarat attended the giant assembly))
5.00 pm - 9.00 pm: HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj's Birthday Celebration
Tithal Road, Valsad,
Phone: (02632) 48610, 48348