On Sunday, August 25, 2002, the foremost festival of the Hindu month of Shravan, Janmashtami was celebrated with joy and enthusiasm at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (BAPS) in Atlanta. More than 2100 fellow Indo-American community members attended the daylong celebrations. In the morning hours, BAPS Medical services collaborated with American Red Cross for a blood donation drive. 104 donors took part in this five hour blood donation drive. A total of 98 pints of blood were collected. American Red Cross volunteers were overwhelmed with the response given by BAPS community satsangis. A spokeswoman for Red Cross said that, "Truly speaking, to collect this amount of blood, it would take 2 bloodmobiles at least 2-3 separate locations. We are grateful to BAPS that they have done this tremendous job by giving us this opportunity today. We look forward to work with BAPS in coming future. Indeed remarkable."
The actual Janmashtami festival started at 4 pm with traditional dhoon and prarthana from the BAPS balaks. Throughout the evening, devotional kirtans glorifying Shri Krishna Bhagwan and Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan were sung by the youths of BAPS. Pujya Shantmurti Swami explained to the audience of 2100, the message from Shri Krishna's life. Shri Krishna had said in Shrimad Gita that 'sambhavami yuge yuge'. He vividly presented that the essence of Shrimad Gita is in three yoga: Karma yoga, Jnan Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Shri Krishna's life was the combination of all the three yoga.Today we can see the similarity of this combination in Pramukh Swami Maharaj's life. His life itself is the message to all. He is the true expounder of the Bhagvat dharma and Bhakti. A balak from the community Sahil V Patel was felicitated for his excellent achievement in tennis. He was ranked 28, in the age group of under 12, by USTA amongst hundreds of tennis playing kids in USA. Pujya Shantmurti Swami gave a special memento to him on behalf of BAPS. Sahil explained the balance of mental and physical stability through tennis in life in his presentation. The whole evening progressed with various segments of presentations by youths. Many leaders from Indian community also attended the festival.
Pujya Amrutnandan Swami gave another presentation on setting up priorities in life. He said that this festival is a constant reminder that we should not forget God. Now in the kalyug, we tend to use God only in calamities. However, we should strive to remember God at all times, in all situations. That is the true message of Janmashtami. The youths then presented a drama called 'Shantiparva'. This was an episode from the Mahabharat in which the Pandavas seek advice from the death bound Bhisma on how to achieve Shanti. Bhisma in his usual style, lying on the arrow-pierced bed, explained them that Shanti could only be achieved by worshipping Bhagwan and following His message. Everyone enjoyed the message of the drama. In conclusion, the birthday of Shri Krishna was celebrated with joy by the balaks with a dance. Everyone participated in arti and had a traditional mahaprasad thereafter.