A young boy holds a decorated oil lamp to the shrine of the Mandir. The doors open and the divine and resplendent murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan is witnessed on the giant screen by thousands gathered inside the assembly hall – where the child then appears holding the lamp to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s image. The live figure of a boy and a montage of breath-taking video clips are melded to create the opening sequence for the 20th anniversary celebrations of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
The grand festival was held at the Mandir in the presence of Sadguru Pujya Mahant Swami (Keshavjivan Swami), Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami, Pujya Atmaswarup Swami and visiting sadhus from India on Saturday 22 August and again on Sunday 23 August 2015.
Through creative three-dimensional projection mapping, innovative visual effects, and a series of inspiring video presentations and enlightening discourses, a team of more than 190 performers and crew brought to life the history, memories and future of London Mandir in a spectacular three-hour production.
Ishwarcharan Swami first provided contextual history to the occasion by elaborating on Yogiji Maharaj’s vision from his visit to London in 1970. Atmaswarup Swami and others continued the journey by recalling the tremendous sacrifice and devotion of thousands of worshippers and well-wishers during the planning and construction of the Mandir as well as honouring those who have continued to give their untiring support since its opening.
A colourful musical stage performance revived the devotional vibrancy experienced during the Mandir Mahotsav in 1995 as part of the events leading to its opening on 20 August. The culmination of the dances was an emotional recreation of the first arti in the Mandir in front of a panoramic backdrop of the shrines.
Emotive testimonies by devotees and sadhus spoke of the profound impact of the Mandir on individuals, families and the community over the past 20 years. The wider impressions conveyed through local, national and international media were also shared.
Memories that have been shared, heard and felt were captured through the thoughts of sadhus who have experienced its spirituality. The treasure trove of such memories of Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the Mandir was fondly relived through a touching video compilation. Swamishri also provided a fresh new memory to cherish, as he sent blessings for the celebrations from Sarangpur, India while he watched the programme live.
A look towards the future became the focus thereafter. Mahant Swami reinforced messages of personal spirituality and unity that will become the foundation for devotees and volunteers for the next 20 years and beyond.
A vibrant finale dance was followed by a concluding prayer made on behalf of everyone by the young child who had earlier opened the evening’s festivities. The joyous occasion was brought to a close with the news that the iconic arch of Wembley Stadium had been illuminated in orange in honour of the Mandir’s 20th anniversary celebrations.
As everyone departed, they were treated to a creative visual presentation projected onto the main steps of the Mandir, with the whole façade of the complex coming to life with colourful lighting effects.