Shri Hari Jayanti and Shri Ramnavmi were celebrated in BAPS centers across the country this month. This event celebrates and commemorates the birth and life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shri Ram. As per tradition, devotees observed a nirjala upvas (waterless fast), sang kirtans (devotional songs), offered prasad (food), and listened to katha (spiritual sermons).
Shri Hari Jayanti is one of the most important festivals of the Swaminarayan Sampraday. The preparations began weeks in advance. The general program included various kirtans extolling the divinity of Bhagwan Swaminarayan sung by the bal mandal. Children singing devotional songs and verses from the 'Swaminarayan Charitra Manas' impressed one and all. These were followed by speeches. Topics included, 'The virtues of Shri Ram - lessons for daily living' and 'The positive impacts of Bhagwan Swaminarayan's life on society.'
The actual date of Bhagwan Swaminarayan's birth is April 3, 1781 (Chaitra Sud 9, Samvat 1837). Beginning in childhood home of Ayodhya, Bhagwan Swaminarayan engaged in a yatra (pilgrimage) throughout India for 7 years which covered 8,000 miles. The final destination was Gujarat and from there, he gave to the world the Swaminarayan Mantra and initiated social reforms to alleviate ignorance and suffering. The children and youth of BAPS typically participate in the festivities by performing short, dramatic plays highlighting significant events from Bhagwan Swaminarayan's life. This year, the theme for the plays was 'Parivartan' (Transformation). Plays depicting incidents of phenomenal transformation brought by Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the lives of Jogan Pagi, Saghram Vaghri, Khima Suthar and Ladhibai were presented. Traditional dances with colorful, authentic costumes added to the joy-filled atmosphere.
Some BAPS centers organized health fair on this auspicious day while some organized programs of Akhand Dhun, Akhand Parayan and maha pujas. The murti pratishtha (idol installation) of Ram Parivar and Shiv Parivar took place at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Fall River and the poojan ceremony of the steps of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Canada also took place on this auspicious day.
Festivities were concluded with blessings from Swamishri, followed by arti , and Janamutsav, where an idol of Thakorji is swung on a decorated swing.