The lunar date of Chaitra Shukla 9 holds special significance for millions of Hindus around the world as the birth anniversary of Shri Ramachandra Bhagwan and Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan. This year, this auspicious day fell on 21 April 2021 and was marked in the UK and Europe with various devotional festivities from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
Families across the UK and Europe enjoyed these celebrations from their respective homes via a live web stream amid the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic.
Swamis at the Mandir delivered a programme of devotional singing and discourses in Hindi during the morning, in which the exemplary life of Bhagwan Rama was described in detail, in particular, the challenges that he overcame in his life through spiritual faith, fortitude and resilience. The profound messages imparted a timely source of learning and strength that can be applied during these difficult times. The ceremonial offering of food (annakut) and arti, marking the divine birth of Bhagwan Rama, was held at noon.
An evening assembly celebrated the life and works of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, including a fascinating insight into his seven-year journey across the length and breadth of India from the age of 11 years to awaken and liberate countless souls. This special programme from India was delivered through discourses by senior swamis who reflected upon the transformation of society that Bhagwan Swaminarayan inspired, and the spiritual strength he provided during his time on this earth, as well as the legacy he bequeathed through his spiritual succession.
In his blessings, Mahant Swami Maharaj drew upon Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s compassion of manifesting upon this earth and encouraged everyone to celebrate this spiritual attainment by reflecting upon his ideals to improve their personal lives. He also offered his prayers for everyone affected by the ongoing pandemic.
Swamis in London then performed the ritual bathing of Thakorji with panchamrut – a holy mixture of milk, yogurt, honey, sugar and ghee. Devotees simultaneously performed this ritual in their own homes and prayed for God to provide strength for everyone affected by the pandemic.
The evening celebrations culminated with a special arti live from the mandir in London at 10.10pm, signifying the precise time Bhagwan Swaminarayan chose to be born to mother Bhaktimata in the small north Indian village of Chhapaiya. Devotees joined in this arti from their homes and gently swayed the murti of Ghanshyam in the cradles they had earlier made together as a family.
Mandirs across the UK and Europe also offered a small annakut to the deities in celebration of this auspicious occassion, albeit without any visitors or worshippers.
Families had marked these celebrations at home throughout the day with a host of festivities, beginning their day with samuh puja, preparing freshly made sweet dishes as a devotional offering in their ghar mandirs, and adorning their mandirs with vibrant and colourful decorations. Children also made birthday cards inscribed with their personal prayers. The uplifting and auspicious day brought a profound sense of warmth and joy to thousands of individuals in homes around the UK and European continent.