Over a span of two months, a 14-acre area of barren land, generously donated for use by Shri Pradipbhai Karia and his family, near the BAPS Mandir in Kampala, was transformed into a divine oasis of inspiration by the dedicated efforts of over 430 volunteers and the support of local government officials, for the 10-day festival to celebrate Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Centenary.
On 19 August 2022, President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni officially inaugurated the birth centenary celebrations from the State House of Uganda. Later in the day, Mr. Thomas Tayebwa, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, along with the High Commissioner of India, Honorable Ajay Kumar and Priyavrat Swami officially opened the Pramukh Swami Nagar for one and all.
President Museveni, “Our relationship with BAPS stretches back to 1991 when the government returned their temple. I also met His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in London in 1997 where I called upon Asians who had been chased from Uganda to return and reclaim their properties. I, therefore, congratulate the BAPS community as they celebrate 100 years and wish them a happy celebration.”
After passing through the magnificent and beautifully decorated entrance gate, visitors were enchanted by the darshan of a large murti of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj enshrined in the festival mandir and surrounded by breathtaking landscape. Among the major attractions were the daily performances by multicultural groups from the eye-catching cultural stage.
The festival grounds included exhibitions on the life and work of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, ghar sabha, women empowerment and de-addiction, as well as a BAPS Charity Hall, Nilkanth Abhishek Kutir, Bhajan Kutir, Yoga Kutir, Bal Nagari (special area for children), Food Court and much more.
Parking was available for more than a thousand cars at a time managed by well-trained volunteers. Thousands of children from all backgrounds enjoyed the games, rides and other attractions in the Bal Nagari
During the festival, BAPS Charities, Uganda, donated medical equipment to Bbaale Health Centre IV for the newly constructed maternity ward in Kayunga District in the presence of Hon. Maj. Gen. David Muhoozi, State Minister of Internal Affairs and Maj. Gen. Apollo Kasiita Gowa, Commissioner for Immigration
Also, many benefitted from the free dental, eye and health check-ups organized by BAPS Charities. In the blood donation camp 319 units of blood were collected and donated to local hospitals.
Over 27,000 visitors of all religious faiths were inspired by the exhibitions on the life and work of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Many local communities honoured the celebrations as well.
Visitors to Pramukh Swami Nagar included: Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Hon Deputy Speaker, Mr. Thomas Tayebwa; Hon. Health Minister, Jane Ruth Ochen; High Commissioner of India to Uganda, HE Ajay Kumar; Defence & Veterans Minister, Oleru Huda Abason; Hon. Parliamentary forum Secretary, Dikson Kateshumbwa; Hon. Minister Kampala Metropolitan City, Minsa kabanda; Father Safari Eugene, St. Joseph Seminary, Nyenga; Principal of Makere University, Prof. Waswa Balunywa; Hon. Minister for Kampala Central, (Office of The President), Kabuye Kyofa; Minister for Environment, Education and Sports, Kampala Central, Josephine Mulamata; Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Gen. David Muhoozi; Major Gen. Apollo Kasiita Gowa, Commissioner for Citizenship and Immigration; Justice Muzamiru Kbeedi; Minister For Transport and Works, Gen. Katumba Wamala; Chief Justice of Uganda, Lord Owiny Dollo; RCC Kampala, Hon. Lukanga Aminah.
Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Thomas Tayebwa thanked the Indian community for sharing with Ugandans, noting that it shows how much they value the people in this country. After his visit to the exhibition halls, he pledged to eat and sit together with his family.
Minister for Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Acheng described Pramukh Swami as a leader who served humanity and advised everyone to always serve without choosing who is big or small.
Minister for Transport and Works, Gen. Katumba Wamala, said “I am really impressed with the life and work of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and take an oath of doing home assembly with my family.”
Chief Justice of Uganda, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, said, “I learned humanity from Pramukh Swami Maharaj that everyone should be treated equally as he did.”
Nadunga Rose, Finance Controller, said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a very great man of God. He did everything without discriminating against any race or religions. After the Morbi Dam which burst and caused flood Muslims and others were badly affected. He organized food for people and cleaned the mosques and cooked for Muslims on the day of Eid. This shows his spirit of oneness and love without discrimination. I have learnt that in all we do we should not discriminate, we should learn to be there for others, and we should do whatever we have been called for, with love.”
Namwawo Priscilla, Student, said, “I toured the exhibition hall and after what I experienced I couldn’t hold back my tears. Pramukh Maharaj Swami brought people together in kindness and love. He spent his precious time to attend to the people and replied to thousands of letters. He was a great man of God. I learnt to be humble, obedient, and kind to others.”
Daniel Tamale, a student at Makrere Business School, said, “Each one of us has an obligation to live up to what God has called us to be. Live humbly and spread love to those around us unconditionally.”
Keyune Ramathan, said, “After my visit to the exhibition hall, I have concluded that if all religious leaders could follow the steps of Pramukh Swami Maharaj then there would be no need for police stations or courts of law in the whole world.”
Richard Yiga, Editor, Together Interfaith Magazine, said, “I learnt from His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj that we must not progress at the cost of others, but sacrifice a part of ourselves for the good of others.”