On April 2, 2020, devotees across North America watched a livestream of the celebration of Shri Swaminarayan Jayanti and Shri Ram Jayanti from the safety of their homes at 8:00 pm local time. With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing significant disruption and uncertainty to daily life, devotees took comfort in recalling the divine stories of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Shri Ram.
The beginning of the program focused on the virtues of Bhagwan Shri Ram’s life and how He was the embodiment of righteous conduct. Particular focus was given to Bhagwan Ram’s selfless thoughts, temperament in His speech, and His steady demeanor – all being particularly relevant to current times.
The remainder of the program was centered around the Swaminarayan Yash Gatha, a musical performance by Swamis showcasing Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life. The program began with the divine circumstances of His birth in Chhapaiya to His parents, Dharmadev and Bhaktimata, to the establishment of a spiritual lineage of gurus years later. The performance of the Swaminarayan Yash Gatha was interwoven with animated depictions of divine incidents from Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life as a child, Ghanshyam, and later as a traveling yogi, Nilkanth Varni. These incidents helped devotees and well-wishers understand the value Bhagwan Swaminarayan placed on devotion and remaining courageous in the face of peril.
The culmination of the program focused on how HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj and HH Mahant Swami Maharaj have tirelessly travelled the world without regard to bodily comforts, to share the values taught and lived by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Senior Swamis Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami, Sadguru Pujya Kothari Swami (Pujya Bhaktipriyadas Swami), Sadguru Pujya Viveksagardas Swami, and Sadguru Pujya Doctor Swami (Pujya Swayamprakashdas Swami) imparted their knowledge and provided inspiration to devotees through their discourses.
As a lead up to the program, devotees participated in the celebration of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Shri Ram’s birth, in their homes, through a day dedicated to family and devotion. In the morning, many families performed their nitya puja (morning prayers) in unison and listened to the Shri Sahajanand Namavali. During the day, devotees decorated their Ghar Mandirs (shrines-at-home) and made cradles to the celebrate the birth of young Ghanshyam (childhood name of Bhagwan Swaminarayan). Once the program concluded, devotees participated in the evening Arti streamed live from their nearby shikharbaddh mandir. Although devotees across North America were physically apart, they were able to experience the divine bliss of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Shri Ram together through these celebrations.