On a cloudy, fall afternoon devotees from across North America gathered on September 2, 2017 at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey to celebrate the joyous occasion of Jal Jhilani in the presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and senior swamis.
Mahant Swami Maharaj arrived at the Brahma Sarovar on campus amidst joyous applause from all devotees present. A traditional mahapuja with five artis was performed of Shri Harikrishna Maharaj and Shri Ganeshji.
After each pujan, Mahant Swami Maharaj traversed around the Brahma Sarovar in a boat, giving darshan to all present. As the boat traveled around the lake, traditional Jal Jhilini bhajans were sung. Each bhajan described the importance of surrendering oneself to Bhagwan and the Guru, and their role in navigating devotees through life’s journey through both rocky and calm waters.
On this day, devotees remember Bhagwan Shri Krishna’s divine leela of boating with the gopis on the River Yamuna after requesting yogurt as fare for the journey. Also known as Parivartani Ekadashi, this day marks the celebration of the mid-point of Chaturmas, the time that Vishnu Bhagwan spends in Bali Raja’s kingdom. Many devotees observe a waterless fast in celebration of Jal Jhilani.
After the Ganpati Visarjan, Mahant Swami Maharaj blessed the festival assembly and commended the devotees for braving the rain and the wind.
The event revived fond and vivid memories from September 2007, when Pramukh Swami Maharaj similarly celebrated the Jal Jhilani Festival at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Edison, New Jersey.