With the Akshar Zarukho transformed into the historic Moksha Pipalo of Chhapiya, thousands of devotees, young and old, filled the mandir compound to join in the celebration of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s 232nd birth anniversary in the presence of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The evening celebration assembly commenced at 8:00 p.m. with dhun and prayers and was followed by a bhajan in praise of Bhagwan Ram, whose birthday is also commemorated today. Thereafter, the senior sadhus addressed the assembly. Pujya Viveksagar Swami spoke about six reasons for Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s manifestation on earth and that to awaken the form of God in our hearts represents the true celebration of God’s incarnation on earth. Then, Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami elaborated on how the Guru Parampara – Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and, presently, Pramukh Swami Maharaj – the manifest forms of Bhagwan Swaminarayan on earth have continued to fulfil the objectives of Bhagwan Swaminarayan by guiding countless devotees towards attaining the divine brahmic state and worshiping God. Pujya Mahant Swami addressed the assembly and emphasized that all actions of God and his God-realized Sadhu are divine and for the liberation of all. He explained that it is due to their grace and by associating with them that the soul attains liberation.
After the speeches, the Yashgatha, which poetically describes the life and work of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, was sung by sadhus.
This was followed by an announcement regarding details of ‘Ghanshyam and the Miracles of Life’ – part two of the animation DVD series on Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life, which Swamishri had inaugurated earlier in the day.
At about 10:00 p.m. Swamishri arrived in the Akshar Zarukho. Balaks then briefly enacted the incident in Chhapiya of Ghanshyam’s friends searching for him and finding him atop the pipal tree looking westwards. When questioned, Ghanshyam revealed that he yearned to meet the countless devotees awaiting him everywhere. Today, that Ghanshyam in the form of Pramukh Swami Maharaj continues to fulfil that wish.
Next, the story of why the paramhansas of Bhagwan Swaminarayan believed him to be supreme God – since he had helped people overcome their inner faults and develop saintly virtues – was narrated. Reflecting the continuation of this work by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the stories of several devotees who had been similarly transformed were presented. Thereafter, a poem describing how, like Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Swamishri had penetrated into the hearts of countless devotees was recited. This was followed by Swamishri interacting with a hearing-impaired devotee, whose life he has guided for several decades.
After these presentations, the moment of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s birth was celebrated by honoring the occasion using the five elements – earth, water, wind, space and light. Representing earth, flowers were showered; for water, abhishek was offered to the murti of Shri Nilkanth Varni; symbolizing wind, conch shells were blown; and denoting space, a selection of the names of God were recited.
The fifth element – light – was offered through the arti ceremony. Swamishri performed arti of the murti of Thakorji, senior sadhus performed arti in the mandir sanctums, and sadhus and devotees seated in the compound also performed arti.
Finally, as balaks joyfully danced, the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan was celebrated by singing the traditional songs: ‘Dharma gher anand bhayo…’ and ‘Sonana bor jhule Dharmakishore…’. At the conclusion of the celebration assembly, everyone had darshan in the main mandir.