The 120th birth anniversary of Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj was celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 12 May, Thursday 17 May and Saturday 19 May 2012.
According to the Hindu calendar, the date of Yogiji Maharaj’s birth (Vaishakh vad 12) fell this year on Thursday 17 May 2012. The evening assembly marking this auspicious event was based on the theme of ‘Samp, Suhradbhav and Ekta’, one of Yogiji Maharaj’s famous callings for peace and harmony throughout the world.
The programme began with kishores and yuvaks eloquently singing kirtans on the life of Yogiji Maharaj. Manoharmurti Swami then provided useful guidance on how one can cultivate and enhance togetherness at home within the family.
A video presentation of Pramukh Swami Maharaj singing ‘Yogi aavo te rang’ in London during his vicharan in 1988 was then shown, rekindling cherished memories for many who were present.
Finally, Yogvivek Swami spoke of the life and works of Yogiji Maharaj and elaborated on how we, too, can imbibe his virtues, particularly focusing on the practice of ‘Samp, Suhradbhav and Ekta’ in the mandir.
Yogiji Maharaj’s birthday was also celebrated on the evening of Saturday 19 May 2012, which coincided with the official launch of the year-long Yuva 60 Celebrations in the UK, commemorating the sixtieth year of youth activities initiated by Yogiji Maharaj in 1952.
This special festival began with a Vedic mahapuja inside the Haveli assembly hall, performed and participated by youths from across the UK praying for universal peace, well-being and Swamishri’s health.
The evening assembly commenced with a vibrant medley of bhajans depicting the divine personality of Yogiji Maharaj. Youths then performed a richly entertaining and enlightening drama portraying the ideals of true devotion while also demonstrating the shortfalls that can sometimes mar the observance of one’s devotional practices. This was supported by a narration of episodes from the life of Yogiji Maharaj which illustrated the strength and purity of his own devotion and the unwavering faith he exemplified in the Swaminarayan Mahamantra.
The assembled devotees then collectively sang the prarthna ‘Bhakti karata chhute maro praan’ as touching images of Yogiji Maharaj were displayed on the screens. They also enjoyed an insightful video presentation of Yogiji Maharaj through the eyes of Swamishri. Yogvivek Swami elaborated further on this, explaining the faultless guru-bhakti that was personified by Yogiji Maharaj.
The evening concluded with a recital of Yogiji Maharaj’s prarthna from the Yogi Gita, with more portraits of Yogiji Maharaj displayed to accompany the prayers.
The Mahila Mandal had celebrated Yogi Jayanti a week earlier on Saturday 12 May 2012. The festival focussed around a kirtan-bhakti programme interspersed with speeches and prasangs that provided insights into Yogiji Maharaj’s life, character and teachings. The bhajans were accompanied with an array of musical instruments. A grand finale dance by female youths marked their contribution towards the beginning of the Yuva 60 Celebrations.
Yogi Jayanti was also celebrated across the rest of the UK at various centres including Leicester, Loughborough and Wellingborough and in Europe in centres including Paris and Milan.