On the day of Posh sud Punam Samvat 1866 (20 January 1810), Bhagwan Swaminarayan initiated Mulji Sharma of Bhadra in a grand yagna in Dabhan, naming him Gunatitanand Swami. The bicentenary celebrations of this auspicious occasion were held at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 2 January 2010, where the authenticity of the scenes from 200 years ago were recreated with vibrant sound and colour through a series of dances, skits and bhajans.
Following a preamble to the life of Gunatitanand Swami through a solo classical dance, children performed another vibrant dance entitled ‘Mulji ho Mulji’ which depicted episodes from Gunatitanand Swami’s childhood and his eternal bond with Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
The initiation ceremony of Mulji Sharma was then re-enacted inside a specially constructed yagna mandap (ceremonial canopy) at the centre of the Haveli, where a large group of children, youths and elders authentically dressed as sadhus and devotees arrived to witness the important event. The bhajan ‘Rupala Zare, Tarala Vere’ was then sung to describe the joyous occasion.
Many devotees had observed various forms of devotion throughout the month of December to commemorate this significant event. They later placed slips into the yagna pit indicating their personal offering.
Pratapsinh originated from the village Chhatrasa. His life was transformed from one of gambling, violence and intoxication to that of a devotee due to the grace of Gunatitanand Swami. A vividly performed drama revealing this transformation was then presented.
Yogvivek Swami addressed the assembly thereafter, explaining the significance of Poshi Punam and encouraging everyone to imbibe the virtues of Gunatitanand Swami – to indeed accept their own ‘diksha’ (initiation) to become gunatit (i.e. rise above the influences of maya). The life and work of Gunatitanand Swami were then remembered through the bhajan ‘Sahajanandji Sharan Tamare Rakho Re.’
Another skit depicting Gunatitanand Swami’s transformation of troubled souls focussed on Rama Hati – a compulsive gambler and meat-eater who changed his immoral ways inspired by the teachings of ‘the Jogi of Junagadh’.
Youths and children then performed another exceptional dance providing a memorable climax to the evening. It was set to ‘Swaminarayan Avya Chhe’, which underlined the fundamental quality of Gunatitanand Swami – that God is forever present through the Gunatit Satpurush.
Following video highlights of the Poshi Punam festival celebrated in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Dabhan on 31 December 2009, the evening concluded with the arti accompanied by live instruments.
The festival proved to be a tremendous success wherein over 100 participants had worked tirelessly to deliver an excellent devotional performance, providing an evening befitting the historic religious event.
Earlier in the evening, hundreds of devotees had also participated in a special mahapuja to further commemorate the historic yagna of 1810.