Vasant Panchami, which traditionally marks the beginning of spring according to the Hindu calendar, is also notable for four significant events in the Swaminarayan Sampradaya: the advent of the Shikshapatri (a religious text of Sanskrit verses encapsulating the essence of moral codes for daily living), the births of Brahmanand Swami and Nishkulanand Swami (both prominent sadhus from the time of Bhagwan Swaminarayan), and the birth anniversary of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj (the fourth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the founder of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha).
The festival of Vasant Panchami was celebrated with great joy in the presence of Sadguru Kothari Swami (Bhaktapriya Swami) at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on the evenings of Friday 15 February and Saturday 16 February 2013.
On the Saturday, the assembly began with youths singing devotional songs that extolled the life of Shastriji Maharaj, after which a devotee narrated incidents highlighting his courage to impart spiritual enlightenment in the most challenging of circumstances. This theme was further explored in an enlightening drama.
Youths thereafter eloquently sang the bhajan ‘Haiyama Anand Ati Ubhray’, which celebrates the divinity and purity of Shastriji Maharaj.
Kothari Swami concluded the festival by speaking of the conviction of Shastriji Maharaj, and encouraging everyone to imbibe the qualities of Shastriji Maharaj to cultivate a true understanding of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. The festival concluded with a vibrant and colourful dance.
Vasant Panchami was also celebrated on the actual tithi of Maha sud 5, which fell on Friday 15 February. The lives of Shastriji Maharaj, Nishkulanand Swami and Brahmanand Swami as well as the ideals within the Shikshapatri were presented through an array of devotional songs and speeches presented by sadhus.
The mahilas also celebrated Vasant Panchami on the evening of 9 February, while the festival was similarly celebrated at various other BAPS mandirs and centres across the UK and parts of Europe.