As part of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centenary celebrations, more than 3,000 devotees and well-wishers took part in a nagar yatra (colorful procession) which culminated in a kick-off assembly on the forecourt of the iconic Sydney Opera House.
The event celebrated Pramukh Swami Maharaj's life based on the theme ‘In the Joy of Others – Celebrating a Life of Peace and Harmony’. The large turnout reflected Pramukh Swami Maharaj's impact on people of all ages – from children to the elderly.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj had visited the iconic Sydney Opera House in 1984 during his first spiritual tour to Australia. Therefore, this sacred and iconic location was selected to pay tribute to Swamishri’s life and message.
The nagar yatra, which began from Circular Quay Station and moved along the scenic harbor, highlighted the values of selfless service, global peace, harmony and unity promoted by Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
As the nagar yatra arrived at the forecourt, attendees were seated on the steps of the Sydney Opera House for the celebratory assembly. The assembly featured speeches by BAPS swamis on various aspects of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life, speeches by invited guests, Vedic peace prayers led by BAPS youths and sung in unison by all, and a traditional dance by teenagers. Mahant Swami Maharaj’s special blessings for the event from Surat, India, were also relayed to the audience. The assembly concluded with everyone performing arti and offering mantra-pushpanjali. Thereafter, a celebratory fireworks show lit up the evening sky.
Addressing the assembly, HE Manish Gupta, Consul General of India, said, “The nagar yatra and congregation demonstrate the values of peace, service and humility which could be seen in Pramukh Swami Maharaj's life. His Holiness's entire life was dedicated to the cause of humanity and the betterment of mankind. I thank all of you who have worked tirelessly to spread these values."
Mr. Geoff Lee, Minister for Corrections, said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s legacy in Australia lives on through the BAPS mandirs in all major cities of Australia and the centennial celebrations are an example of the power they hold. [The mandirs teach] the younger generation the good values of life – promoting what is good about BAPS and its wonderful culture – and what it also means to be an Australian. We are right here at the Opera House. It will be something that will stay in my mind for the rest of my life.”
Dr. Andrew Charlton, Federal Labor candidate for Parramatta, said, “This volunteer-run event exemplifies the message of harmony. It's a wonderful celebration and something that brings us all together as Australians. The values of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life, and the messages of harmony and service he taught people all around the world will live on forever."
Among the other distinguished guests who attended the event were Mr. Chris Minns, NSW Leader of the Opposition; Ms. Julia Finn, Shadow Minister for Sport and Youth; Hon. Daniel Mookhey, Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for the Gig Economy; Lord Mayor Donna Davis, Parramatta City Council; Councillor Sameer Pandey, Deputy Mayor, Parramatta City Council; Councillor Barbara Ward, Deputy Mayor, Ku-ring-gai Council; and Councillor Reena Jethi, Hills Shire Council.