From 21 to 23 May 2012 a grand Mandir Mahotsav was celebrated to mark the opening of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Arusha, Tanzania, in the presence of Pujya Ghanshyamcharan Swami and 14 sadhus.
In 1960, Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj had visited Arusha and sowed the seeds of satsang. Over the years Satsang has grown due to the increasing involvement of children, teenagers, youths and seniors.
The new Mandir includes a grand assembly hall, kitchen and dining area, as well as classrooms for children, teenagers and youth activities. Children, youths and elders from centers throughout Tanzania (Dar-es-Salaam, Mwanza, Tanga and others) wholeheartedly served in the construction project as well as the Mandir Mahotsav preparations.
The three-day Mandir Mahotsav began on Monday 21 May with the Swagat Sabha in which the importance of mandirs in daily life was highlighted and a souvenir magazine was released to commemorate the inauguration of the Mandir.
On Tuesday 22 May, 430 yajmans participated in the 63-kund Vishwashanti Mahayaag in which prayers were offered for world peace and prosperity. At noon, the murtis to be consecrated in the Mandir were taken around the town in a colorful procession. Six beautifully decorated floats carried the murtis through the one-and-a-half kilometer procession route. Over 1,500 devotees joined the procession which concluded at the Mandir. Outstanding highlights of the procession:
- 45 members’ Moshi Police Academy Band playing BAPS kirtan tunes
- Signboards of all the major satsang centers in Africa
- A Punjabi drummer to bring cultural diversity in the procession
- Yuvaks performing dances
- Children in traditional clothes dances and playing instruments
- A team of acrobats performing various acrobatic sequences
- Jugglers and stilts men
- Devotees from BAPS centers in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Botswana
In the evening assembly youths of Dar-es-Salaam performed a skit depicting the true value of mandirs in society. The sadhus narrated inspirational incidents of youths demonstrating the noble values they learn from mandirs.
On the morning of Wednesday 23 May (Jeth sud 2), the sacred murtis of Shri Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj, Shri Ghanshyam Maharaj, Shri Nilkanth Varni Maharaj, Shri Guru Parampara, Shri Radha-Krishna Dev, Shri Sita-Ram Dev, Shri Parvati-Mahadev, Shri Ganapatiji and Shri Hanumanji, all of which had been previously sanctified by Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj in India, were installed in the new Mandir with Vedic rites by Pujya Ghanshyamcharan Swami. More than 1,800 devotees from all around Africa were present to witness this historic and auspicious occasion.
During the murti-pratishtha assembly, Pujya Ghanshyamcharan Swami spoke on the glory of Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj, and about how mandirs reinforce moral teachings and preserve spiritual values. Present in the assembly were the regional commissioner, Mr. Isidore Leka Shirima, and the Minister of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Dr. Emmanuel Mchimbi who was representing His Excellency Mr. Jakaya Kikwete, the President of Tanzania.
In the afternoon, the Women’s Wing held a special Mahila Sammelan to celebrate and commemorate the new mandir in Arusha.