The 225th Birthday Celebration of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Ram Navmi were celebrated with religious fervor all across North America on 17th and 24th April.
Many of the mandirs had organized an annakut to mark this auspicious day. As an expression of love and devotion, a large variety of traditional Indian dishes and sweets were prepared by the ladies wing. The children and the youths decorated the temple with great enthusiasm. Pujya Santos opened the exhibition prepared by the kishoris on the life and work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
In the evening, devotees gathered in the assembly hall for a colorful and enlightening celebration with a unique theme. During his teenage years, Bhagwan Swaminarayan traveled the length and breadth of India and was known as Neelkanth Varni. These travels, or "vichran", that spanned 8,000 miles barefoot, were the theme of tonight's celebrations.
Throughout the evening there were various skits depicting some of the diverse aspects of Nilkanth Varni's vichran. In less than 90 minutes, the audience received an insightful look into Neelkanth's unique seven year long treks of dharma, knowledge, renunciation, and devotion. Many commented on the show's engaging nature and inspiring message. Attendees, young and old, were awe-struck at the program's quality and were further surprised to find that complete production, direction, and execution were done by the teenagers and children.
After the skits, Pujya Santos explained the importance of dharma and bhakti in our life, through numerous incidents from the lives of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Ram. In the video blessings that followed, His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj spoke about Bhagwan Swaminarayan's life and work and the importance of celebrating this day. The program ended with arti and in some centers, with abhishek to the sacred image of Nilkanth Varni.
Some mandirs had organized health fairs on this occasion. Many people around the community including some of the invited guests took part in it.
On the actual tithi of Bhagwan Swaminarayan's 225th Birthday, 18th April, most mandirs had planned a special sabha to praise the glory of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. As a traditional practice, many devotees had observed a fast to commemorate the occasion.