Wits University, Sturrock Park Football Complex, Johannesburg
Over 25,000 members of the local community and guests from Johannesburg and across South Africa attended the historic 10-day Festival of Inspiration at the Wits University Sturrock Park Football Complex in honor of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj's birth centenary.
This grand festival was inaugurated by Jnaneshwar Swami, Priyavrat Swami, resident BAPS swamis and honoured guests from the public and private sectors. On entering the festival site, visitors were welcomed by the grand murti of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and festival mandir surrounded by beautiful landscapes. A daily maha-arti and nagar yatra in the evening added to the festive atmosphere.
The festival featured an interactive exhibition portraying the life and work of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in which volunteer guides explained the salient messages, such as ghar sabha. Also presented regularly during the festival were the live presentation on ‘Family Harmony and Values’ and the ‘Paramanand’ video highlighting Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s work in reforming society.
In the children’s section, titled ‘Kingdom of Values’, families participated in a series of games and activities in a quest to acquire five jewels, representing priceless lessons related to respect, honesty, education, family, and environmental awareness. At the centre of this cultural amusement park was a spectacular mandir constructed entirely from recyclable materials gathered by the balaks and balikas of BAPS South Africa over the last three months. Over 4,000 plastic bottles and 50,000 plastic bottle caps were used to construct this mandir, all of which were recycled at the end of the festival.
Throughout the 10-day festival over 250 performers presented both Indian and South African culture through music, dance, and other special programs. These included North Indian (Hindustani) and Carnatic classical musical and instrumental performances; the ancient dhrupad tradition of singing; and African performing arts, such as traditional Zulu dances, the gumboot dance and Marimba performances. Also, male and female wings of the Mzansi Youth Choir performed, with the young men presenting the bhajan ‘Chhoji Amaru Jivan, Pramukh Swami’ in honor of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Swamis and learned pandits from across South Africa participated in the Dharma Parishad on the topic ‘Hinduism in South Africa 2025: Challenges and Opportunities’. All resolved to uphold Hindu Dharma in South Africa with unity and friendship.
BAPS Charities hosted free health screenings, dietician consultations, and eye and hearing screenings. Also, visitors donated 200 pints of blood.
The final weekend celebrated Diwali through Chopda Pujan, light-a-lamp to light up a life, build a Diwali hamper to help those in need, and the auspicious chanting of the Sama Veda by learned pandits.
The Garden of Virtues display featured one hundred edible artworks, sculptures, and images made by local devotees, each depicting a story of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and a shastra reference. Collectively the display conveyed the message that “Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a garden of all the divine virtues described in the shastras. Let us imbibe these virtues in our own lives and spread a divine fragrance in our world.”
The festival concluded with a grand maha arti of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s murti adorned with 2,000 lotus flowers and a fireworks display attended by 7,500 well-wishers.
Over 450 volunteers (male, female, young and old) contributed their time and efforts to prepare for and run the festival. From May 2022, volunteers gathered every evening to build the magnificent festival displays, mandir structure, and plan for the various programs and other aspects of the event.
Opinions of Festival visitors
“A brilliant exhibition on the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Such a saint comes once in 1,000 years. We are so privileged that he lived in our times and uplifted so many people.” - Anonymous
“I have never heard of him [Pramukh Swami Maharaj] but I now know about him. I feel very much inspired by [this] great man who never wants to be praised like other leaders.” - Anonymous
“Very enlightening. The exhibition was done very well.” - Devendra Dhanjee Hari
“Historic, priceless inspiration. BAPS Volunteers are vibrating on a higher frequency. I am so proud of your time and effort, and for giving us insight to his life.” - K.C. Mowjee
“I fully enjoyed the tour and exhibition. I am spiritually uplifted and very impressed.” - Zinto Benjamin Nhlapo
“Very inspiring exhibition. Thank you for hosting the SBSM Independent School.” - SBSM School staff
“What a beautiful experience for our learners, carers and teachers! Thank you for sharing this with us.” – Liz Steward, Forest Town School teachers and learners
“It is amazing to understand and get insight into the unselfish life, teachings, accomplishments and thoughtfulness of this man. An inspirational exhibition of an organization that is making a real difference in this challenging world that we live in. We, as dwellers of this planet, should take these learnings and be ambassadors of this BAPS philosophy and spiritual living.” – Ash Gewap
“I am blessed and found a vision for life. Thanks to each and every sevak.” - Guruji Kiritbhai Acharya