Thousands of devotees and well-wishers from across North America and around the world gathered at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada on Thursday July 27, 2017 to witness the Asthipushpa Visarjan (holy ash dispersion ceremony) for His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj passed away in Sarangpur, India, on August 13, 2016. He had visited Canada 12 times between 1974 and 2007, inspiring and inaugurating in 2007 the magnificent BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Canada’s first traditionally hand-carved Hindu place of worship.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj also visited and sanctified Niagara Falls for the first time on July 27, 1974, followed by multiple visits until 1990. At Niagara Falls, His Holiness also visited the Floral Clock Park and there prayed for world peace; and also performed a small ritual at the waters of Niagara.
It is therefore fitting that Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s holy ashes were also scattered in Niagara Falls, as an expression of gratitude and in commemoration of his longstanding and sacred ties with Canada. Therefore, exactly 43 years later on July 27, 2017, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual successor of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, visited Niagara Falls to perform the Asthipushpa Visarjan (Holy Ash Dispersion) ceremony of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
During the ritual, the holy ashes of His Holiness Pramukh Maharaj were dispersed into the flowing waters over Niagara Falls with prayers expressing everyone’s collective gratitude in receiving his blessings; and thus sanctifying the waters of Niagara. Prayers were also offered for World Peace, for the peace and happiness for the people of Canada and for all those who visit Niagara. The ritual was presided over by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. Devotees and well-wishers observed the ritual from a special observation area.
As a part of the Niagara Parks Memorial Tree Program, a memorial tree was also dedicated in honour of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The ceremony and holy ash dispersion took place in accordance with local laws and with the help of the Niagara Park authorities.The ceremony at Niagara Falls followed the dispersion of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s holy ashes in many holy rivers of India, including the Gondali, Narmada, Sabarmati and Ganga, and recently in the Nile near Jinja, Uganda and River Thames in London.