The BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Gondal, Gujarat, is a popular pilgrim place near Rajkot for countless devotees in India and abroad. As part of the mandir complex the Akshar Deri is a memorial shrine where Gunatitanand Swami, the first successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, was cremated 150 years ago. To commemorate Akshar Deri’s 150th anniversary, ten days of festivities are being held from 20th to 30th January.
Today morning, Monday, 22nd January, the renovated Akshar Deri was ritually worshipped and inaugurated by Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of BAPS.
In the afternoon, a grand finale assembly celebrating the 150th anniversary of Akshar Deri was held in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj, President of India H.E. Ramnath Kovind, Governor of Gujarat H.E. O. P. Kohli, Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Vijaybhai Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Shri Nitin Patel.
Prior to the President’s arrival in the celebration assembly, he was given a warm welcome at 4 p.m. in the mandir premises. He was honoured with a garland by Mahant Swami Maharaj and thereafter the President visited the Akshar Deri for darshan and prayers.
Thereafter, with the arrival of the President and guests on the main festival stage, they were welcomed with thunderous applause by 100,000 devotees and well-wishers. After the national anthem Mahant Swami Maharaj garlanded the President. Thereafter, the President and Mahant Swami Maharaj inaugurated a stamp on Akshar Deri to commemorate the event. The Chief Minister Shri Vijaybhai Rupani said, “Akshar Deri is a unique symbol of the BAPS’s services to society. This celebration is also a symbol of women’s power through the spiritual services rendered by them for this festival and society.” The President said in his address, “I experience great joy in being here today. It is our tradition to see uplifting services by various spiritual and social organization. Yours is one such organization. I congratulate you for your services. Your organization has built mandirs with a unique identity by serving society through various services. One finds cleanliness in Swaminarayan mandirs and thus one finds the presence of purity, character and spirituality.”
Then, Mahant Swami Maharaj said, “Everyone is happy that the President has come to our event. Akshar Deri is a place that gives peace to the whole world. Brahman and Parabrahman are absolute entities, who came on earth and uplifted the downtrodden classes and countless other souls.”
After the President’s departure, a grand cultural stage programme depicted the history and significance of Akshar Deri through captivating dances, dramas, videos and enlightening speeches. The celebration climaxed with Mahant Swami Maharaj’s blessings and arti performed by 100,000 devotees.
The entire celebration was relayed live through the BAPS website and Aastha channel.