On 4 December 2019, over 60,000 BAPS devotees, well-wishers and star-studded guests, 750 BAPS swamis and 10,000 volunteers witnessed the spectacular 98th Birthday Celebration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the DY Patil Stadium in Nerul, New Mumbai.
The evening celebration programme, which commenced from 5.30 p.m., lasted for over 4 hours. The celebration theme featured the challenges our society faces today and the solutions provided by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Swamiji’s life and Herculean philanthropic works, guided and liberated countless from the vice-grip of addictions and depression, acts of violence and family disharmony, scourge of ego and aggression and also inspired faith as a lasting solution to all these social and personal ills.
The stage programme involved stellar performances by 3,000 children and youths, video presentations, devotional songs, traditional dances, testimonials and speeches by Pujya Viveksagar Swami, Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami, Pujya Kothari Bhaktipriya Swami, Pujya Dr Swami, swamis and dignitaries.
Honourable Shri Amit Shah, Home Minister of India, was the chief guest of the celebration. Having personally met and interacted with Pramukh Swami Maharaj on many occasions he shared his sentiments, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj kindled the lamp of peace, faith, devotion and good feelings in the lives of hundreds of millions of people. He was such a personality who selflessly visited more than 17,000 villages and towns and provided solutions to problems of countless people. He established a tradition which for centuries will keep on redeeming the whole world.
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj built over 1,100 BAPS Swaminarayan Mandirs in India and abroad and spread the Hindu teaching of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ [the whole world is one family]. Through his inspiration, over 55,000 youths have served 102,000,000 hours for the benefit of society. I believe that so far there is no one who has inspired the youths in their prime years to sacrifice themselves to serve society. Such works only Pramukh Swami Maharaj could accomplish.”
In conclusion, Mahant Swami Maharaj blessed, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a divine person. His mind was divine. One having a divine mind has no problems. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s mind was immensely pious and strong. He could accomplish whatever he thought of. He inspired countless souls on the right path and engaged them in doing bhajan and bhakti. Through his [divine] touch he uplifted and awakened all who came into his contact. Vijaybhai Patil has lovingly offered this stadium with a spirit of seva. I convey my Jai Swaminarayan and pranams to all the guests and devotees who have come from India and abroad.”
The celebration witnessed a maha arti performed by 60,000 devotees, well-wishers and invited guests. Finally, a spectacular fireworks show celebrated and paid tributes to Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Under the auspices of the year-long 98th Birthday Celebrations of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Mumbai the BAPS volunteers of Swaminarayan Mandir, Dadar, conducted various social welfare programmes. Anti-addiction drives and family values were conducted by children, youths and volunteers in over 125,000 homes. Spiritual assemblies in the suburbs of Mumbai were organized to promote Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s motto, ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’