The festivals of Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi were celebrated through an enlightening two-day production over the weekend of 31 March and 1 April 2012 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. The theme focussed on ways in which one can displease (Day 1) and please (Day 2) Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
The celebrations began on the evening of Saturday 31 March with the bhajan ‘Divya Sabhapati Ray’ – setting the spiritual atmosphere. The first drama depicting the consequences of anger, as seen through the example of Mancha Khachar, was eloquently elaborated upon by Yagnatilak Swami. The characteristic of jealousy was enacted through the example of Naradji, while the displeasure that Bhagwan Swaminarayan expressed of bad company and talking ill of others was presented through a sketch reliving the example of Bhudho Dhadhal.
Supporting the drama was the bhajan ‘Mohan-ne Gamva-ne’, and a succinct conclusion from Yogvivek Swami who explained the practical relevance of these spiritual concepts in today’s world.
The celebrations continued on Sunday 1 April 2012 – the actual tithi of Chaitra sud 9 – with a traditional annakut that was offered to the murtis. At 12 noon, sadhus performed a special arti to commemorate the birth of Shri Ramchandraji. Worshippers were able to rock the cradle of Ramchandraji and were given the opportunity of offering abhishek to the sacred image of Shri Nilkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan) in the evening.
A special programme of devotional songs was organised inside the Haveli assembly hall from 5pm as part of the festivities. Sadhus sang a collection of bhajans describing the divine characteristics of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shri Ramchandraji before the second day of the production continued at 8pm.
The evening programme on Sunday began with the bhajan ‘Chogulu Taru’, focussing the minds of devotees on the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, before Aksharvihari Swami spoke of the importance of surrendering oneself to God. This was followed by the bhajan ‘Mare Swaminarayan Bhajva Re’, describing the nature of staunch devotion to God.
Further episodes from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan were dramatised illustrating the steadfastness of devotees’ religious vows through the account of Lakshmichand Sheth. Manoharmurti Swami further addressed the topic of faith in God, before the bhajan ‘Dharmakuvar Harikrishna-ni Re’ explained how to embolden that faith with a sense of God’s divinity. Yogvivek Swami then provided a fitting conclusion to the evening and the two-day programme.
The assembly culminated with joyous celebrations of the birth of Purna Purushottam Shri Bhagwan Swaminarayan at precisely 10:10pm when children, dressed as devtas and muktas, arrived to welcome Ghanshyam Maharaj.
The festivals were also celebrated at all BAPS mandirs and centres around the UK as well as in Europe.
In addition, a special assembly of festivities by the Mahila Mandal was held in London on Saturday 7 April 2012. A series of sketches illustrated the positive transformation of people’s lives that took place through the grace of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in his time. The inspiring and joyous celebration was enjoyed by young and old.