On Sunday 24 February 2013, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Birmingham held a national event to celebrate 40 years of Satsang in Birmingham.
Hundreds of devotees from across the UK attended the celebration, which was held in the presence of Sadguru Bhaktipriya Swami (Kothari Swami). To commemorate the occasion, a grand mahapuja ceremony was conducted by sadhus as part of the inauguration of a new sinhasan for the murtis.
An entertaining cultural programme followed, beginning with a unique video depicting the progress of Birmingham Mandal since the first ever BAPS Satsang Sabha in 1972. The video highlighted the way that Satsang has grown over the 40 years through the tireless efforts and inspiration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Manoharmurti Swami, compering the programme, mentioned that a lot has been done over the past four decades and the fruits can now be evidently seen, particularly in the children and youth within the mandal. To illustrate this point, the audience was treated to the talents of Thrishul Chhaya, aged 6, who performed a riveting mono-act about Sagram Vaghri, a devotee from the time of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
Yagnatilak Swami then gave examples of children and families in Birmingham who have been nurtured by Satsang, highlighting in particular the selfless help offered to Kiranbhai Patel and his family by BAPS volunteers during his remarkable recovery from cancer.
Children as young as 4 years then performed a group kirtan, ‘Mare Hari bhajanma re’vu chhe’, which had won them first prize in the ‘Kids Ultimate Challenge’ (KUC) in 2012. This again showed the way that children’s talents have been and are being nurtured in Birmingham.
Prabuddhmuni Swami gave further examples of devotees whose lives have been transformed after coming into contact with Satsang and the Mandir. This included Shyam Raithatha, who was inspired to positively transform his life by BAPS youth volunteers. Shyam achieved a First Class degree and is now working as a successful project manager. He attributes his success to the inspiration of Swamishri and the dedication of his youth mentors from the Mandir.
The audience were then treated to a medley of rousing bhajans extolling the glory of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, sung by Aksharkirtan Swami.
Kothari Swami then blessed the assembly, focusing on the importance of mandirs and Satsang and how devotees can achieve happiness by keeping them at the forefront of all their activities.