The 93rd birth anniversary of Pramukh Swami Maharaj was celebrated with great devotion over several days in December at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
A special cultural programme was held on the evening of Saturday 7 December, Swamishri’s birthday according to the solar calendar. Titled ‘Thaiye Swami Jeva’, the evening compromised a montage of speeches, dramas and dances celebrating his exemplary virtues.
The festivities began with the traditional singing of the dhun and prarthana, which was followed by a vibrant and colourful procession to welcome Swamishri to the assembly.
The array of speeches, dramas and videos that followed thereafter highlighted the perfection of dharma, gnan, vairagya and bhakti in Swamishri’s life.
Children expressed their wish to please their guru by singing the bhajan “Mare Swamine raji karvaj chhe”, before a beautifully choreographed and energetic dance brought the celebrations to a joyous climax.
To both honour and celebrate Swamishri’s selflessness throughout his life, devotees perform a corresponding number of hours of personal religious observances. This year, devotees took part in 93-hour stretches of fasts, prayer sessions, scriptural reading, etc. which were highlighted after the conclusion of the festival.
The birthday of Swamishri according to the lunar calendar (Magshar sud 8) was celebrated on Tuesday 10 December 2013. The programme began with the singing of bhajans in praise of his life, followed by short speeches by sadhus highlighting key similarities between the impact, virtues and personality of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Swamishri.
The mahilas celebrated Swamishri’s birthday on Saturday 14 December 2013 with the theme ‘Mara Swamini Thaye Vah Vah’. A high-tempo dance extolling the glory of the occasion welcomed Harikrishna Maharaj and Swamishri to the assembly hall. Children then presented the spiritual greatness of Swamishri on the basis of scriptures and inspiring moments from his life.
The impact of Swamishri’s life upon world dignitaries and spiritual leaders was highlighted through a presentation exploring their words and experiences. This was further supported by an enlightening speech which captured how Swamishri has touched the lives of countless people.
The festival concluded with a dance celebrating the pledges that devotees make to Swamishri on this auspicious occasion.
On the same day, young children honoured Swamishri with a birthday celebration of their own, on the theme: ‘Swamishri with Children’. They sang bhajans, narrated incidents from his life, and offered a thal of cake. Many also brought in handmade cards and artwork and presented poems as gifts for their guru.
Similarly devotional and colourful celebrations honouring Swamishri on his 93rd birthday took place at BAPS Swaminarayan mandirs and centres throughout the UK and in parts of Europe.