A special prarthana sabha (memorial assembly) was conducted by swamis at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, and webcast across the UK and Europe on Friday 8 May 2020 in memory of all those who have recently passed away. It provided much-needed closure and spiritual solace to families who had been unable to convene at local mandirs due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
The ceremony included devotional singing by swamis and was interspersed with video blessings and messages of spiritual fortitude from Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj.
Families of the deceased participated in the ceremonies from their respective homes, performing the various rituals simultaneously as they were conducted by swamis inside the Mandir.
The assembly began with prayers for peace to prevail across the world and for the well-being of all. Swamis sang various bhajans with words of spiritual strength that provided comfort and solace for the many families who had sadly lost their loved ones. (Not all had passed away due to COVID-19.)
Yogvivekdas Swami, Head Swami of the Mandir, delivered an uplifting address, drawing upon the compassion and protection that Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the Gunatit Gurus forever bestow.
The evening service concluded with the mantrapushpanjali (a devotional offering of flowers to the murtis) and a final prayer sung by swamis and families in unison across the UK and Europe.
During the programme, swamis, devotees and well-wishers remembered Srutidharma Das, the former president of Bhaktivedanta Manor, ISKCON UK, as well as four BAPS swamis who had passed away in India. A special remembrance tribute was also paid to healthcare and frontline workers who have passed away in their line of duty whilst serving the nation during COVID-19.
Anup Morzaria, son of the recently deceased Purshottam Morzaria, shared his sentiments after the assembly. “Wonderful, graceful, peaceful – adjectives and words just cannot describe the profound strength that this sabha has provided to me and my family. The words from Mahant Swami Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, as well as the tributes and eloquently sung bhajans have provided peace and closure during this time of loss. My heartfelt gratitude to you all.”