On 19th February, Monday, The Prime Minister of Canada, Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, and his family visited Swaminarayan Akshardham – a 23 acre cultural and spiritual complex dedicated to devotion, learning and harmony at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The Mandir, with timeless Hindu spiritual messages, vibrant devotional traditions and ancient architecture, is a humble tribute to Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830), deities and great sages of India.
Upon arriving at the Mandir at 12 noon, the Prime Minister was traditionally welcomed and garlanded by Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami and Pujya Anandswarupdas Swami on behalf of HH Mahant Swami Maharaj and the BAPS at the ornately carved stone Mayur Dwar. The Prime Minister was extremely happy when reminded of the special relationship Pramukh Swami Maharaj had with his father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He also remembered meeting Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj during the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Toronto BAPS Mandir on 22 July 2017. The Prime Minister was led to the model room of Akshardham and was given an introduction about the entire complex.
The Prime Minister and his family posed for the media on the mandir parikrama podium and then proceeded to the main mandir of the Akshardham complex. They were welcomed by a traditional dance by children dressed in the Indian tricolour, waving the Indian and Canadian National flags. Inside the Akshardham Mandir, he paid respects to the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan by offering flowers amidst the chanting of peace prayers. He admired the art and architecture of the Mandir. He learned how His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual leader of BAPS, inspired thousands of volunteers and artisans to create the Mandir to share the message of love, peace, tolerance, non-violence, co-existence and global harmony.
Ms. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the first lady, was deeply touched and moved by learning about the spirit of forgiveness and compassion Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj showed at the time of the terrorist attack in 2002.
Xavier Trudeau, their son, who studies in 5th standard, was delighted to see the Mandir and repeatedly exclaimed, “I love India! I love everything about India!”
The Prime Minister and his family sat on the steps of Akshardham Mandir for a while praying for the betterment and progress of their family and flourishing friendship between the two countries.
Thereafter, the Prime Minister visited the exhibition and appreciated the message of sculpting one’s life, where a stone sculpture showcases a man sculpting himself. Thereafter, he offered prayers for peace and harmony for the people of India, Canada and the entire world by offering ‘abhishek’ – the ceremonial pouring of water on the sacred image of Sri Neelkanth Varni – at the Abhishek Mandap.
Sharing his sentiments about Akshardham, the Canadian Prime Minister wrote, “What an extraordinary place of peace. Thank you for sharing with me, with my family, with the world.” Ms. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau wrote, “In oneness. Shanti.”
The Prime Minister and his family left at 1 pm after spending a memorable and enriching time at Swaminarayan Akshardham.