A special programme of prayers was conducted on Sunday 4 April 2021 by swamis at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, joined simultaneously online by thousands of devotees from their respective homes around the UK and in Europe.
The ‘Akhand Dhun’ is held annually at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Wellingborough, and usually welcomes thousands of worshippers and visitors to participate in a special day of prayers for peace and prosperity to prevail in communities across the world. Throughout the day, visitors to the Mandir usually offer their respects at the ‘Akshar Deri’ – a beautiful shrine housed within the mandir.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, families across the UK and Europe joined in the prayers via a live webcast from their homes and participated in a variety of ways – by chanting the Swaminarayan mahamantra, playing instruments to accompany the devotional singing, writing the Swaminarayan mahamantra, and performing pradakshinas around images of the Akshar Deri in their homes. Many children contributed by creating a 3D model of the Akshar Deri from card, paper or other creative materials.
The programme commenced with children reciting traditional benedictory verses as well as selected verses from the Satsang Diksha scripture. Swamis performed the abhishek of Shri Nilkanth Varni Maharaj following the hour-long dhun. Thousands of devotees joined in this sacred ceremony from their homes.
In his blessings, Sadguru Pujya Swayamprakashdas (Doctor) Swami emphasised the statement made by Mahant Swami Maharaj that the Akshar Deri in Wellingborough is as noteworthy as the original Akshar Deri in Gondal, and there is no difference between the two shrines. He encouraged everyone to offer their sincerest prayers on this occasion with this understanding and underlined the importance of participating in daily spiritual activities together as a family at home.
This year’s prayers were especially significant as the world continues to fight through the adversity and challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Swamis prayed to God to offer comfort, solace and strength to all those still affected, and for the vaccination programmes to help alleviate this disease across the world.
Janki Patel, aged 16, shared her thoughts on the special prayer programme: “To offer our devotion with all members of the family on this auspicious occasion was a very rewarding experience. We pray that everyone in the world suffering from the virus can return to good health as soon as possible.”