BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Lisbon, commemorated the birth centenary of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj with an inspiring two-day festival from 7 to 8 January 2023.
Several distinguished guests attended the celebrations, including His Excellency Manish Chauhan, Ambassador of India to Portugal, who was accompanied by his wife Ranjeeta Chauhan, and Dr José Amaral Lopes, President of the Alvalade Parish Council, as well as leaders and representatives of various Hindu organisations in Portugal.
The festival included an enlightening exhibition as well as an opportunity for visitors to
participate in the abhishek ceremony (ancient Hindu practice of pouring water over the sacred image of God to honour him and to attain his blessings), enjoy henna painting, sample delicious vegetarian food, and select souvenirs as a memento of their visit.
The celebratory programme comprised vibrant presentations by youths and adults revealing Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s inspiring life and uplifting messages as well as a journey through Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s previous visits to Lisbon.
A musical tribute was also performed by devotees of the Mandir to honour Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s travels to Portugal.
A special screening of Mystic India – a period documentary exploring India’s intricate architecture, colourful festivals, traditional rituals, fascinating diversity and stunning landscape, following the arduous journey of Bhagwan Swaminarayan as a teenage yogi – was aired on a giant LED screen to commemorate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence. The assembly further marked this historic occasion with national anthems of both India and Portugal.
Sharing his experiences, Ambassador Chauhan said: “Thank you for inviting us to be a part of this very important celebration. This [Mystic India] was a very beautiful film. I watched it for the first time. It’s a colourful representation of India and the history of [Bhagwan] Swaminarayan, which was very useful to learn.”
Dr Lopes added, “It’s an honour for me to be here, to celebrate Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s centennial birth anniversary. Despite practising different religions, we seek the same knowledge, harmony, peace and love. We share this concept of unity and diversity and respect to all. It’s an honour for us having you all here in the parish of Alvalade.”
Volunteers had prepared for several weeks to plan and deliver this memorable celebration and to provide an enriching experience for the local community. More than 450 people attended the festival, departing with a deeper understanding of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life embodied by his teaching: ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’