Over 25,000 devotees from throughout India, USA, UK, Canada, East Africa and other parts of the world came to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Shahibaug, Ahmedabad, to enjoy the colorful annual Hindu festivals of Holi and Pushpadolotsav in the presence of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The morning celebration assembly, held in the mandir compound, featured speeches by senior sadhus in which they explained the spiritual significance of these traditional Hindu festivals and how these spiritual messages can be imbibed in daily life. Sadhus also sang bhajans commemorating the festive occasions.
Swamishri graced the assembly by appearing in the balcony ('jharukho'), which was decorated as a royal ‘hansa’ flying in the sky surrounded by devas sprinkling colorful flowers. He was welcomed by the stirring beats and lyrics of the bhajan ‘Vadtal gam fulvadie re, hindolo ambani dal…’. Thereafter, he inaugurated a new publication by Swaminarayan Aksharpith: ‘Akshar-Purushottam Mahatmyam’ – a 5-volume text of 19,000 Sanskrit verses and their Gujarati translations written by Sadhu Shrutiprakashdas describing the glory of Bhagwan Purushottam and Akshar, the traditions of the Swaminarayan Sampraday and the glory of the BAPS guru parampara.
Then, Swamishri sprayed saffron-scented water upon the small murti of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj and, in turn, Swamishri was lightly sprinkled with saffron-scented water through a spray in the hands of Thakorji. Subsequently, groups of balaks, yuvaks, devotees and sadhus showered each other with flower petals of various colors to the tune of festive bhajans in the background. Swamishri also showered everyone with rose petals by pressing a switch to trigger their release. The joyous atmosphere moved the devotees to stand up and dance while they enjoyed Swamishri’s darshan in the Akshar Jharukho. When Swamishri departed, the assembly concluded. The traditional prasad of popcorn and dates (fagva) was distributed to the devotees.
In the evening, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., over 75,000 devotees gathered at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Sarangpur in the presence of the senior BAPS sadhus – Pujya Mahant Swami, Pujya Doctor Swami, Pujya Bhaktipriya (Kothari) Swami, Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami and Pujya Viveksagar Swami – to celebrate this annual festival.
This year, due to the drought situation in Gujarat, flowers and flower petals were used for the celebrations at both Ahmedabad and Sarangpur instead of the traditional use of water.