His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj passed away in Sarangpur, India, on 13 August 2016. He had visited London 19 times between 1970 and 2007, creating and opening in 1995 the famous ‘Neasden Temple’, Europe’s first traditional Hindu mandir. London’s River Thames had also been sanctified by Yogiji Maharaj in 1970, when he bathed the murti of Harikrishna Maharaj after inaugurating a new hari mandir in Islington, north London – the first Swaminarayan mandir in the western hemisphere. It was therefore fitting that Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s ashes also be scattered in the River Thames, in commemoration of his longstanding and sacred ties with the British capital.
The Vedic ceremony prior to scattering the sacred ashes of Pramukh Swami Maharaj was performed by Mahant Swami Maharaj and senior sadhus on Sunday 18 June 2017 at London Mandir. The mahapuja began early in the morning, and after Swamishri’s puja darshan, all the haribhaktas had the opportunity to participate in the pujan of several kalashes containing the ashes, thereby offering their own personal tribute to their beloved guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
After 4.30pm, the sacred kalashes were moved to the River Thames, where Mahant Swami Maharaj presided over the final ritual aboard the River Princess boat at Lambeth Pier.
The boat then began its journey towards Westminster Bridge, the first scheduled stopping point. Here, Swamishri performed the ceremonial dispersing of the asthipushpa (sacred ashes) of Pramukh Swami Maharaj into the Thames.
A special observation area along the walkway opposite St Thomas’ Hospital Gardens near Lambeth Palace was organised where devotees were able have darshan of Swamishri performing the asthi visarjan. Haribhaktas and well-wishers also dotted the various bridges along the Thames, including Lambeth Bridge and Westminster Bridge.
The boat continued along the Thames and passed various iconic landmarks of London, including the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament), the London Eye, and the Battle of Britain Monument.
The ceremony and scattering took place in accordance with British Law and through a dedicated service provider with the help of the River Thames’s various marine and port authorities.
The ceremony followed Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s ashes also being dispersed in many holy rivers of India, including the Gondali, Narmada, Sabarmati and Ganga, and recently in the Nile near Jinja, Uganda.