Between December 2021 and April 2022, the weekly episodes of ‘The First of its Kind’ captivated audiences around the world. This gripping 14-episode documentary series chronicles the untold history of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, and, through it, reveals the work, wisdom and virtues of its creator, Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The final episode, titled ‘Not Humanly Possible’, was screened at London Mandir on the weekend of 2-3 April 2022 and at mandirs across the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, as well as in the Middle East and Canada. This truly global event was also marked with celebrations by families at home across Africa and North America.
The extended series finale served as a culmination of the journey and provided a unique and unforgettable pre-show experience to complement an immersive large-screen showing.
In London, the gates of the Mandir were transformed into a traditional box office setting where attendees collected their tickets for the show upon arrival before proceeding to the courtyard for their pre-screening photo against the special backdrop designed for the occasion – the iconic image of Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the summit of the marbled staircase, with cinematic lighting to commemorate his centennial birth celebrations.
Guests continued through an outdoor tunnel flanked with polaroid photographs of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life. A photograph was also provided to every visitor to scribe their personal reflections of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s virtues, which were then pinned to the giant ‘Wall of Virtues’ as a personal tribute.
The final leg of the pre-show experience comprised a beautiful exhibition with artefacts and memorabilia that were presented throughout the series. Exhibits from the ‘Museum of Memories’ deepened the connection with the journey of the Mandir and brought to life its rich, extraordinary history.
During the screening itself, viewers participated in the concluding deepānjali (offering of light) to Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who has been the source of energy, warmth and enlightenment for millions around the world. With senior swamis and haribhaktas from around the world, and Mahant Swami Maharaj at the Akshar Deri in Gondal also lighting divas as a part of the final sequence, it became a truly global tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj on the occasion of his centennial anniversary.
Reena Patel shared her impressions after the event in London: “What a wonderful occasion! This was truly a ‘box office’ experience and has provided me with memories that I will cherish forever. The episodes I have seen now have greater meaning and the opportunity to contribute to the show was so special. What a brilliant contribution to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Shatabdi [centennial birth] celebrations.”
Harsh Brahmbhatt, who attended the screening at the mandir in Toronto, Canada, echoed the sentiments of many when he shared, “I’ve never been to London Mandir – but I can’t wait to see it for myself now. Already, it feels like my mandir. And amazingly, watching this whole series, especially this final episode, it has strengthened my commitment to my local mandir here in Toronto. This is the universal impact of Bapa’s work; it could appeal to everyone everywhere and still feel like their own.”
Viewers departed with a specially prepared pack of take-home mahaprasad. With each of its items associated with a special memory of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, it was aptly titled, “The Pramukh Swami Smruti Menu”.