Devotees from across the northeast region witnessed the exciting 25th Anniversary celebration of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Edison, NJ on October 22-23, 2016. The program was enveloped in the theme, Katha Kahu aa Mandir ni, which served to relive the story of the Mandir through the last 3 decades. It showcased how the Mandir has served as a home of worship, a place of identity for thousands of devotees and will continue to do so with the new construction project. The event was graced by the presence of Sadguru Pujya Kothari Swami (Pujya Bhaktipriyadas Swami) and Pujya Swamis of whom a few shared their experiences with the attendees. More than three months of planning, preparation, and practice by hundreds of volunteers and devotees alike culminated into executing this program. Ranging from age 5 to 50, a total of 70 participants poured their hearts into bringing to life the history, memories and future of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Edison, NJ.
Relentless prayers and efforts by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj for the making of this Mandir were brought to life with special narrations by devotees and videos compiled with memories from his past vicharan in Edison, NJ. Each visit from 1991 to 2014 symbolized his unflinching efforts to propel the growth of the Mandir for the cultural and spiritual nourishment of all. The nostalgic program brought Swamishri back to Edison all 14 times and left the atmosphere emotionally charged.
The event also reflected on the message that Pramukh Swami Maharaj has given us through each of his visits and the Mandir itself. Lessons in humility, unity, cultural identity, values, servitude and sacrifice resonated throughout the program. Participants shed light on their personal experiences gained from this Mandir, how in the most challenging of times in their lives, Mandir not only provided comfort and solace but also imparted them strength and spiritual wisdom to strive forward without losing courage and brought them closer to Bhagwan and the Satpurush. They shared the spirit of service as they volunteered their time and efforts in annual health fairs, walkathons, and blood drives that benefited the local community and taught them the value of giving to others. These messages were relayed with creative musical performances including a variety of dances, live speeches, and skits with innovative three-dimensional effects. Devotees also engaged in a Smruti Walk, which consisted of 150 photos of Pramukh Swami Maharaj from his vicharan in Edison, NJ placed in selective locations, to relive some golden memories and enriching experiences.
To honor the special occasion, several dignitaries along with the Board of Chosen Freeholders recognized BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Edison, NJ for its 25 years of community service under the universal ethos of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, “In the joy of others lies our own.” A joint legislative resolution was also passed by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey to credit the effective and untiring efforts made by BAPS in support of local humanitarian causes. Congressman Frank Pallone expressed his sentiments for the celebration on Twitter, congratulating the Mandir on its 25th anniversary and imparting wishes for the new Mandir construction project.
Attendees received inspiring blessings from Sadguru Pujya Kothari Swami, reminding all how to genuinely thank Pramukh Swami Maharaj for his compassion showered upon them through this Mandir. Following this, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s video blessings encouraged all devotees to strive for continual growth of this center of cultural, spiritual and humanitarian activities. A special moment of pratigna was held, with all attendees with flower petals in their right hand, to resolve to further the efforts and vision of Pramukh Swami Maharaj for this Mandir to the best of their ability. For all in attendance, this celebration revived not only memories from Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s past vicharan but also the spirit of samp, suhradbhav and ekta in their hearts as a new chapter in history began with the construction project of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Edison, NJ.