As individuals and organizations grapple with the financial, social, emotional and spiritual ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha hosted a special prayer known as Mahapuja at each of its six Shikkarbaddh (traditional stone) mandirs in North America on Sunday, March 29, 2020. The Mahapuja was held for the well-being of all people, regardless of religion, nationality, race, or beliefs, and a quick resolution to the pandemic.
At 9:00 am local time, the Pujya Swamis residing at the Shikkarbaddh mandirs began the rituals. In the spirit of the Upanishadic verse ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ (the whole world is one family), prayers were said for the well-being and betterment of all living beings and for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, BAPS closed all mandirs worldwide in accordance with governmental and scientific community guidelines creating a void in the lives of many devotees. The online Mahapuja served to connect all BAPS devotees and well-wishers in solidarity against the pandemic. Over 12,000 families took part in the ceremonies from the safety of their homes. The virtual presence of the murtis (sacred images) of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and his spiritual lineage as well as the Pujya Swamis served to calm the minds of devotees with the chanting of Vedic mantras thousands of years old and, yet, still relevant today.