The Yuvak-Yuvati Mandal of London embarked upon a spiritual journey across the capital on Sunday 24 July 2016. The pilgrimage (yatra) comprised of various places that have been sanctified (prasadi) by Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj during their combined visits to the UK between 1970 and 2007.
More than 350 youths learned about the history of BAPS in the UK and the tireless efforts of Yogiji Maharaj and Swamishri to strengthen Satsang here through their 19 visits.
The day began at Queen’s Park Rangers football stadium, the venue of the Suvarna Tula Mahotsav of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in July 1985. The group gathered at the exact location where Swamishri’s stage had been constructed. Girishbhai Patel, one of the lead volunteers of the festival, shared his personal accounts of the grand occasion. The joyous atmosphere was enhanced with the track, ‘Suvarna Tula Pramukh Swamini, Londonma thai’ti adbhut’ being played on the public address system.
The congregation then proceeded to Putney Bridge, where Yogiji Maharaj, accompanied by 300 devotees, bathed Thakorji at the banks of the River Thames on Sunday 28 June 1970.
With elevated spirits amid the warm summer weather, the five coach-loads of pilgrims arrived in Islington where Yogiji Maharaj inaugurated the first BAPS mandir in the Western hemisphere on Sunday 14 June 1970. The group experienced a feeling of divinity as they entered the site, which has since been converted to a nursery. Anandpriya Swami shared finer details of Yogiji Maharaj’s vision behind the mandir and its construction.
The next stop was Alexandra Palace, where Pramukh Swami Maharaj was honoured with a grand reception in 1974, his first visit to the UK as Guru. The month-long Cultural Festival of India was also celebrated here from 16 July to 16 August 1985. Many sadhus and youths present on these two occasions reminisced and shared their personal memories with the others.
The final stop of the yatra was the home of Arvindbhai Patel in Dollis Hill, where Yogiji Maharaj stayed in 1970. Arvindbhai, who still resides at the property, spoke first-hand about the experiences of welcoming Yogiji Maharaj at his home and shared some inspiring episodes from that time.
Throughout the day, participants developed a deeper understanding of the foundation of BAPS activities in the UK through the vicharan of Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The journey also evoked a profound feeling of devotion as youths paid homage to these special places of pilgrimage and became energised to further this work through their own satsang endeavours.