Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, was the creation of HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj and inaugurated by him in 1992. Akshardham means the ‘divine abode’ of Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830). To commemorate Akshardham’s 25th anniversary a grand event was held on the premises of the iconic cultural and spiritual complex. More than 25,000 dignitaries, devotees and well-wishers attended the landmark function.
Pujya Anandswarup Swami, Mahant of Swaminarayan Akshardham, addressed the assembly about Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s contributions in the creation of Akshardham. He said that Swamishri had suggested about the thickness of the parikrama pillars, the face of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s murti, content of the exhibitions and a sundry things.
Thereafter youths sang the Swaminarayan dhun and bhajans ‘Vandu Sahajanand charan raj…’, ‘Mairi mene Purushottam var payo…’ and ‘Mangal chhai rahyo tribhuvan me…’
Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modi arrived at 6.30 p.m. in Akshardham and along with HH Mahant Swami Maharaj (BAPS guru) inaugurated the ornately carved stone Mayur Dwar (entrance gate). Thereafter they proceeded to perform abhishek of the murti of Shri Nilkanth Varni and offered prayers. He was gifted with a shawl and a pen. While walking towards the stage the 25,000 gathering welcomed the Prime Minister, HH Mahant Swami Maharaj, Chief Minister of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani, and Deputy Chief Minister, Nitinbhai Patel, with cheers and by waving the Indian and BAPS flags.
The Prime Minister and guests took their seats before the Akshardham Mandir and a welcome dance was performed by children on the song ‘Vande mataram, swagatam…’. Thereafter, the 15-minute scintillating Akshardham Sanatanam show was shown. The captivating visuals, animations and videos projected on the Akshardham Mandir and an impressive commentary evoked an immersive and uplifting experience. The show vividly highlighted the 25-year history, impact and contributions of Swaminarayan Akshardham in inspiring spiritual and humanitarian values in countless people. The audience acknowledged the show with thunderous applause.
Then, while climbing the steps towards the Akshardham Mandir Narendrabhai Modi offered his hand in support to Mahant Swami Maharaj. They paid respects to the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan by offering flowers and peace prayers in the garbh-gruh. Mahant Swami Maharaj tied the auspicious nada-chhadi on Narendrabhai’s wrist Thereafter the guests came to the podium outside the mandir. Mahant Swami Maharaj honoured the Prime Minister with a garland. Ishwarcharan Swami garlanded Chief Minister Vijaybhai Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitinbhai Patel.
Brahmavihari Swami delivered a welcome speech and narrated Narendrabhai’s associations with Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The Hon. Prime Minister addressed the congregation, reminiscing about Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the humanitarian works of BAPS. He said, “I’ve been closely associated with Pramukh Swami Maharaj and this movement since the early years of my life. I have always been deeply touched by his simplicity. Pramukh Swami Maharaj blended technology, modern management and timeless spiritual values in Akshardham and the mandirs he built. Pramukh Swami Maharaj had shown utmost care and affection for me on many occasions. He used to be the first person who remembered me whenever I faced troubles. I am blessed that after Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj has comforted me.”
HH Mahant Swami Maharaj blessed the Silver Jubilee Celebration, saying, “We thank Shri Narendrabhai for coming here in spite of having many responsibilities. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was an apostle of peace. He blessed everyone, and those who imbibed his blessings were elevated. Akshardham has inspired all its visitors towards righteous living and has left a profound impact in people’s lives. Let’s pray to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj that may all find inspiration to mould their lives by visiting Akshardham.”
The Prime Minister, Mahant Swami Maharaj and the entire congregation performed arti. Thereafter, the PM departed at 8.10 p.m. from the assembly amidst cheers and applause by the audience.
Then, a video on the global impact of Akshardham was shown. Thereafter, a traditional cultural dance ‘Akshardham Sanatanam…’ was performed by children.
Pujya Dr Swami, Mahant of Ahmedabad Mandir, inspired the assembly in his address, “We should not be content with what we are doing because there is always room for improvement. We should also endeavour to purify our heart through self-introspection and the association of a true guru.”
Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami, convener of BAPS, gave the highlights of how Akshardham was created. He said, “In 1970, Yogiji Maharaj had sat beneath the banyan tree, now behind the Akshardham premises, and prayed that a big mandir be built here. Thereafter, Pramukh Swami Maharaj fulfilled Yogiji Maharaj’s wish and inaugurated it in 1992. Akshardham inspires countless people to live a pure and peaceful life. I thank the architects, engineers, volunteers and devotees who had contributed during the construction of Akshardham.”
The event concluded at 9.00 p.m. with the screening of Akshardham Sanatanam Show.