Hundreds of devotees and well-wishers from across North America gathered on the banks of Hudson River on Thursday, September 7, 2017, to witness the Asthipushpa Visarjan (holy ash dispersion ceremony) for His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj as performed by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, his spiritual successor.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj passed away in Sarangpur, India, on August 13, 2016, at the age of 95. He had visited the United States of America fourteen times between 1974-2014, inspiring and inaugurating in 2014 the magnificent BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, NJ. He had visited New York 13 times, inaugurating the first BAPS Mandir in North America in New York in 1974. His holy ashes were scattered in the Hudson river, as an expression of gratitude and in commemoration of his longstanding and sacred ties with New Jersey and New York.
The Ashthipushpa pujan prior to scattering the sacred ashes was performed by Mahant Swami Maharaj, Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami, and senior swamis. Devotees had the opportunity to participate in the pujan thereby offering their own personal tribute to their beloved guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
After the vedic ceremony, Mahant Swami Maharaj dispersed the holy ashes of Pramukh Swami Maharaj into the flowing waters of the Hudson river, sanctifying the waters of the Hudson as well as the hearts of all those who were present. He offered prayers for world peace, peace and happiness for all devotees living in America, and peace and happiness for all who visit the Hudson. Devotees and well-wishers observed the ritual from a special observation area.
The ceremony followed the dispersion of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s holy ashes in many holy rivers of India, including the Gondali, Narmada, Sabarmati, and Ganga, and recently in the Nile near Jinja, Uganda, River Thames in London, and Niagara Falls, Canada.