On 3 July 1980, Pramukh Swami Maharaj consecrated the concrete pillar of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Wellingborough, that housed the murtis of Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj, and declared it as symbolic of the Akshar Deri in Gondal, India, thus establishing it as sacred and a place of pilgrimage.
Exactly 40 years later, on Friday 3 July 2020, a special programme commemorating the 40th anniversary of this momentous day was webcast to thousands across the world. The occasion was also marked with an annakut comprising over 75 items of food offered to the murtis in the shrines of the mandir.
The evening programme began with a traditional Vedic mahapuja ceremony performed for peace and harmony, with families participating from their respective homes by decorating their ghar mandirs and offering celebratory food to their murtis.
The programme concluded with an inspirational, documentary-style production featuring photographs, videos and interviews, with moving contributions from elderly devotees and senior swamis who were present on that auspicious day.
Devotees narrated the rich history of Wellingborough satsang activities from 1972 to the present day, highlighting how the community expanded gradually, transforming a sole terraced house into the well-furnished mandir. This occasion revealed the initial struggles and hardships as well as the multiple visits by Pramukh Swami Maharaj over the years to provide strength and guidance. The spiritual significance of the Akshar Deri was also explained, including the placing of the holy ashes of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 2017.
Payal Patel, one of the many viewers online, shared her thoughts of the event: “It was a lovely opportunity to learn about the humble beginnings and glory of the Akshar Deri. Mahant Swami Maharaj’s blessings have encouraged the whole family to visit this special shrine regularly to offer our prayers.”