The series of inspiring, devotional events marking the 25th anniversary of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, continued on Saturday 22 August 2020 with an online Vishwa Shanti Mahapuja. This unique global experience was a collective prayer for family harmony and world peace with the online presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj and senior swamis.
The Mandir in London created by Pramukh Swami Maharaj has touched the lives of people across the world, so it was natural for so many to be eager to participate on this momentous occasion. In total, more than 31,000 individuals from 33 countries registered to participate in the mahapuja from their own homes, with several thousands more joining even without registering.
The mahapuja was conducted from the shrines of London Mandir by the resident swamis. Mahant Swami Maharaj presided over the opening of the mahapuja through a live video link from Nenpur in India. He also offered his personal blessings in which he paid tribute to the tireless commitment of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in gifting London with this mandir and blessed that satsang activities continue to flourish in the UK and throughout Europe.
In addition, Sadguru Pujya Bhaktipriya (Kothari) Swami joined from Pune, India, to lead the main prayers of the ceremony, while Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami addressed the online audience from Gandhinagar, India, at the conclusion of the mahapuja.
A mahapuja is a very special, ancient holy ceremony that involves making devotional offerings to the chanting of powerful Vedic mantras with the sentiments of reverence, adoration and gratitude to God. The millennia-old Vedic prayers and mantras beautifully chanted by the swamis to the accompaniment of musical instruments during the mahapuja bestow purity, peace and harmony in the world. The mahapuja also helps bring peace of mind, righteous prosperity and family harmony to participants – attributes that the Mandir has provided to countless worshippers and visitors over the last 25 years.
The explanations of these various components and rituals were narrated in English and Gujarati, and were accompanied with on-screen guidance throughout the ceremony, helping families to understand the meanings of the Sanskrit verses and perform the mahapuja correctly.
Families were able to enhance this enriching experience with a special pack they had received beforehand with all the items needed to fully participate in the ceremony from their respective homes.
Shruti Patel from Lisbon, Portugal, joined in the mahapuja with her family. Sharing her experience, she said, “This was a truly unique and uplifting experience and we were overjoyed that Mahant Swami Maharaj joined the ceremony. We’ve seen the mahapuja performed before, but to be able to fully participate from our homes and understand the intricate meanings, and convey these to our children, made this very special. We always learn something new every time we visit the Mandir during our trips to the UK, and despite being closed for visitors, it is so heart-warming to see how it continues to give to us all 25 years on.”
More than 6,500 photos were received of families participating from all over the world. It has been possible to share only a small selection of these in the galleries here.