Tens of thousands gathered at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar to participate in the evening assembly titled ‘Women’s Day 2: Celebrating Women’s Empowerment’. Women from around the world presented a Kirtan Aradhana and women dignitaries paid tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s immense efforts to foster the holistic empowerment and development of millions of girls and women worldwide.
The assembly began at 5pm with a special medley of devotional hymns sung by an all-female ensemble from across the world and accompanied by traditional Indian as well as Western instruments.
Dignitaries then paid tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Mrs. Amruta Fadnavis, Vice-President Axis Bank, Singer and Social Activist, said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj spread the message of love across the world and it is wonderful to see everybody including the children following his messages today. He considered everyone a member of his family, which is evident from the 750,000 letters he wrote to devotees. His guidance to lead everyone towards spiritual liberation differentiates him as a true Guru. I bow to Mahant Swami Maharaj, who is taking his legacy forward.”
Honourable Evelyn Anite, State Minister of Finance for Investment and Privatization of Uganda, shared, “When I come to India, I can feel the maxim of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’ I was pleased to meet Indian government officials as well as the Indian people to tell them that our President has recognized Indians as one of the tribes of Uganda. Uganda is a land of peace and unity, and I invite all of you to come. I will take back with me the respectful way Indians treat one another, by bowing and saying ‘namaste’, symbolising peace. Indians are the most hardworking and trustworthy citizens, and Uganda will always welcome you to be a part of our family.”
Honourable Smriti Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs of India, added, “I cannot express the depth of my feelings about my experience at Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar. Years ago, when my husband and son met Pramukh Swami Maharaj at the BAPS temple in Mumbai, I stood at a distance and did his darshan. Today, when I stand here and see all the women devotees here, I realise, in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, at the refuge of the guru – there is strength.
“The dharma of a woman is clear, but what about men? Today, as I explored the Nagar and Bal Nagari, I was given a book in which Pramukh Swami Maharaj was asked, ‘How can one become an ideal husband and father?’ Pramukh Swami Maharaj replied, ‘Make time for your family. Turn off the TV and read scriptures with your children.’
“People ask for shortcuts to attain God, but Pramukh Swami Maharaj clarified that by cultivating virtues, doing one’s duty to family and society, and following the path of prayer and hard work, one will experience heaven on earth. While he did not promise a life free of difficulties, he gave us the spiritual wisdom to navigate the treacherous path of difficulties.
“BAPS explains what true morality is. Pramukh Swami Maharaj taught the balance between rights and responsibilities. This is something women have to balance and battle with every day. If we want to give one message on behalf of India, it should be Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s message – whether male or female, make humility your weapon, walk on the path of values and morality for the benefit of the nation and humanity, then we will be able to take India to greater heights and share its universal message with the world.
“I feel fortunate to have seen the exceptional ‘Sea of Suvarna’ show in the Bal Nagari. For six months, those young girls practised the choreography to teach young children and their parents values in a creative way. All of the girls exuded energy and exuberance. When I asked a young girl why she was smiling despite being away from her parents for so long, she replied, ‘Smritiben, we are offering service.’ This can be seen in each and every volunteer here.”
The Hon. Justice Philomena Mwilu, Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya, said, “As I went around Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar and listened very clearly, I found a lesson to learn at every place. I was told that 80,000 volunteers are serving on this site. If that is not something to celebrate itself, I don’t know what is. When I came to the grounds, I honestly thought it was permanent; I was told it was not. You have done tremendous work to make this place feel like a home. People have sacrificed their time to be here to make this celebration a great success. You have taken the gifts God has given you and shared it with others.
“Women are instrumental in the progress of any society. What I have seen today goes beyond nation and beyond religion. You must keep this for your societies forever.
“Women create successful homes. Mahant Swami Maharaj himself has taught that unless there is harmony in the family, there can be no harmony in society. It is women who create the family. There is no home without a strong woman, and women become strong through the hardships they endure. They need all the support we can provide.
“I have learned a lot today and will take Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s lessons away with me: ‘In the joy of others lies are own.’”
Dr. Nimaben Acharya, Former Speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, shared, “The 80,000 people who volunteer here experience the satisfaction of service, and the thousands of people who visit experience Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s presence and blessings. The unique bubble wrap portrait of Pramukh Swami Maharaj created by the months-long efforts of 141 British women is just one example of the astounding and tireless service so many from around the world have offered to pay tribute to their guru.
“From the Sant Param Hitkari and de-addiction exhibitions, it was clear Pramukh Swami Maharaj had made even greater efforts to serve others by inspiring virtues and purity in their life. In Adivasi areas, women have suffered tremendously because of their male family members’ addictions. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s work has done so much to alleviate the suffering of these women. We also saw how Pramukh Swami Maharaj, no matter the circumstances, always took out time to guide, console and bless everyone.
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s vision of ‘ghar sabha’, the family spending time together every day, was revolutionary. Such a practise creates positivity. I have personally witnessed this in our own home, as my daughter-in-law is a BAPS devotee and also a doctor. From her influence, I have realized that any woman who engages in devotion creates a happy and positive atmosphere in the home as well as in society.
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj knew that women preserve values. This is why he did so much for women of all ages. He created schools like the one in Randesan, where girls not only study but are taught moral values and ethical living.”
Mrs. Suhag Shukla, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Hindu American Foundation, said, “Viewing the stunning exhibitions built here by the service of volunteers shows what can be achieved through united hearts and minds for a selfless and noble cause.
“Pramukh Swami Maharaj said, ‘Dharma is that which spreads love for one another.’ While it seems simple, it is hard to practise if we think more about what divides us rather than what unites us. So, please say ‘namaste’ to each other with an awareness of its meaning – the divine in me bows to the divine in you. This exemplifies the values of Sanatan Dharma and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
“We women can make the lessons of Pramukh Swami Maharaj the backbone of society because we care for the next generation. So, the sincere awareness of the divinity within ourselves and others will make us pure from within, allowing us to better see the divinity in all. Pramukh Swami Maharaj taught that when we see God in everyone, nobody is seen to be different.”
Other dignitaries honoured on stage today included:
Bhartiben Dhirubhai Shiyal, National Vice President of BJP
Shardaben Patel, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
Poonamben Maadam, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
Sanyuktakumari Vijayrajsinh Gohil, Maharani of Bhavnagar
Rivaba Jadeja, MLA for Jamnagar (Gujarat)