2 May 2004 (V.S. 2060, Vaishakh sud 12) Sunday, London
At 2 p.m., a grand symbolic Rath Yatra under the auspices of BAPS Golden Anniversary of Children’s Activities was launched from Alperton High School in London. About 6,000 devotees from London, Leicester, Birmingham and other cities participated in the devotional event. Children and youth colorfully dressed for the occasion danced and expressed their devotion and joy in the streets of northwest London. The murtis of Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Lord Jagannath were installed in two decorated floats. The disciplined procession resonated with the singing of dhun by the devotees. The Rath Yatra concluded at 5.30 p.m. at the Neasden Mandir. Then on the mandir grounds Swamishri and the dignitaries, Mayor of Brent Peter Lemmon, Minister of Transport and Aviation Tony Macnulty, M.P. Barry Gardiner, Chairman of Metropolitan Police Authorities Toby Harris and Mayor of London Ken Livingstone released peace pigeons in the air. Children released peace balloons to commemorate the Rath Yatra event.
Thereafter a celebration assembly was held in the mandir hall. Mayor of Brent Peter Lemmon said, “The community here is giving a message of peace to the larger community through their activities. Brent is the largest multi-faith community…”
Minister for Transport and Aviation Tony Macnulty said, “I was very happy to be part of this Rath Yatra. It is a very joyous day. Wonderful procession for the whole community of London.”
The M.P. for Brent Barry Gardiner reminisced, “It was my greatest honor to be in Delhi for breathing of life ceremony of the murtis in the mandir over there. I know yet more temples will be opened by His Holiness in Houston and Chicago. It is the same breath that will give life to the murtis there. The same simplicity and holiness in the murti will give life to the community there as it gives life here.”
The chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority Lord Toby Harris said, “Young people are inspired to work for the community, that is a powerful message to all the communities of London.”
The Mayer of London Ken Livingstone said, “Your Holiness, we met 20 years ago in Alexandra Palace. I had no idea then about the beauty of the building you would create in this city. It has impounded this city with its beauty, and increased the beauty of this city beyond measure. I praise you for the work you’ve done for this city and for peace and for the children whose 50th anniversary we will shortly celebrate.”
Finally Swamishri crowned the assembly with his blessings, “Today’s festival was celebrated beautifully. Everyone participated by chanting God’s holy name. By celebrating such festivals our spiritual strength, devotion and remembrance of God increases.”
Swamishri lovingly expalins the importance of Satsang
3 May 2004 (V.S. 2060, Vaishakh sud 13) Monday, London; Young Yuvak Day
o A special assembly of 400 youths between the ages of 23 and 35 was held in the mandir hall in the morning. The theme of the assembly was ‘Pride for Satsang’. Viveksagar Swami addressed the youths about the glory of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj. Finally Swamishri blessed the youths explaining about having pride for one’s family, country and Satsang. In conclusion the youths honored Shri Harikrishna Maharaj.
o In the evening assembly the youths performed a drama ‘Be a Proud Satsangi’. The assembly was capped with Swamishri’s blessings.
Swamishri in spectacular mood during the eclipse sabha
4 May 2004 (V.S. 2060, Vaishakh sud 15) Tuesday, London
Swamishri observed the lunar eclipse from 7.45 p.m. to 4.15 p.m. During the program of dhun and bhajans Swamishri said the rosary. Thereafter Viveksagar Swami talked about the eclipse from the Indian scriptural perspective. Finally Swamishri blessed the assembly and after the lunar eclipse Swamishri bathed and performed his personal puja.
Swamishri performs murti-pratishtha arti
7 May 2004 (V.S. 2060, Vaishakh vad 3) Friday, London; Children’s Day
o At 11.00 p.m. Swamishri performed the murti-pratishtha rituals of Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Shri Radha Krishna Dev, Guru Parampara, Shri Hanumanji and Shri Ganapatiji for the hari mandir in Southend-on-Sea. A beautiful annakut was arranged before the deities and thereafter Swamishri performed the pratishtha arti. The event concluded with Swamishri’ s blessings.
o At 6.30 p.m. the Children’s Day assembly commenced on the theme of ‘Guru Bhakti’. The volunteers of BAPS Children’s activities performed a drama ‘Andehri nagari and gandu raja.’ A slide show on Yogiji Maharaj was screened. Then a dance on the kirtan ‘Ho Swami Guruhari chho tame’ was performed by children. After every verse of the bhajan personal incidents were narrated by children with reference to Swamishri as a friend, inspirer and consolidator of niyam-dharma and devotion.
Finally Swamishri blessed the assembly.
9 May 2004 (V.S. 2060, Vaishakh vad 5) Sunday, Luton, London
At 9.30 a.m. Swamishri arrived at the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Luton to perform the murti-pratishtha rituals. With the commencement of Vedic rituals Swamishri performed the pratishtha of Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Shri Radha Krishna Dev, Guru Parampara, Shri Hanumanji and Shri Ganapatiji. After the annakut was arranged, Swamishri performed the pratishtha arti.
During the pratishtha assembly Viveksagar Swami explained the importance of mandirs in society. Then Lord Navnit Dholakiya, president of the Liberal Democratic Party, addressed the assembly, “By giving over 500 mandirs to us Swamishri has given us our religion. Today we find that because of religion there are wars and killings, whereas in our Hindu mandirs we hear the words Om Shantihi, Shantihi, Shantihi.”
The Mayor of Luton Councillor Michael Dolling said, “This is an occasion that I shall treasure for the rest of my life. You do Luton a very great service by establishing a mandir in our town. The Hindus of the town are a very valuable asset and contribute greatly to the cultural and social life of the area.
“Your work throughout the rest of the world is well known providing spiritual and social care for millions of people. Your residential homes for the elderly, your fundraising for natural disasters such as famines or earthquakes is without equal. Not only that, you run anti-addiction drives and build hospitals and shelters in poorer countries. This work is on top of making young people aware of their social responsibilities together with training, education and good parenting skills.”
Finally Swamishri blessed the assembly, “Through this mandir people will be blessed with good impressions (sanskars). Mandir is a place that stills the mind, because God is still; and one who is still can give stillness to others. The world is unstable. God is stable so He controls and keeps countless universes stable. The mandir is a place that stills the mind because by offering devotion to God, praying to Him, seeing Him and listening to His glory one is blessed with divine virtues.”
The pratishtha assembly was attended by 1500 devotees.