2 February 2002 (VS 2058, Posh vad 5) Saturday, Sydney. Procession of Murtis by Boat
One hundred and thirty five couples were engaged in the yagna rituals and 12 Brahmin children were given the sacred thread by Swamishri. Thereafter, Swamishri performed the pujan of the murtis.
In the evening at 6.00 pm, Swamishri arrived at the boat station called Meadow Bank on the river Paramatta to embark upon a procession (nagar yatra) by boat. Two boats had been hired for the ritual procession of the murtis. In the first boat, 'Royal Boat', the murtis of Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Radha Krishna Dev, Shiv Parvatiji, Ganpatiji, Sita Ram and Hanumanji were installed on its upper deck. Swamishri and 250 devotees sailed in the 'Royal Boat'. About 600 devotees were in the second boat called 'Lady Wakehurst'. The procession on the river (sagar yatra) commenced at 6.10 pm. The sadhus sang the Swaminarayan dhun and bhajans all through the procession. The boat passed beneath the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Thereafter, arti was performed and prayer-verses were sung. Then, Swamishri bathed Shri Harikrishna Maharaj with the local river water and sprinkled it on everyone. A small potful of the sanctified water was emptied into the river water and Swamishri wished for the liberation of all living things in it.
The boat-procession concluded at 7.45 pm.
3 February 2002 (V.S.2058, Posh vad 6) Sunday, Sydney
Swamishri performed the murti pratishtha of Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Shri Radha Krishna Dev, Shri Sita Ram Dev and Shri Hanumanji, Shri Shiv Parvatiji and Ganeshji and the guru parampara. Amidst Vedic chantings, Swamishri invoked the deities and performed pujan. After an offering of Annakut, Swamishri and the dignitaries performed arti. Thereafter, the pratishtha assembly commenced in which the guests addressed the audience.
1. His Excellency the High Commissioner of India, Mr. R.S.Rathore said, "It is a great honour for me to be here this morning for the murti pratishtha of the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in the divine presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The Rosehill temple has come a long way from the first satsang sabha which took place in 1971 and since the registration of the Swaminarayan Hindu Mission in 1991. This has been possible only through the blessings and guidance of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The Swaminarayan Sanstha is a worldwide movement with millions of followers, it is held in very high esteem because of its humanitarian work as also because of its universal appeal. The Swaminarayan Sanstha in Sydney has been working in charitable work, they have organised education for children, they have organised blood donation camps, and they have worked in environmental protection and again in relief work as also for charity work."
2. Deputy Leader of Federal Labour Party, Mr. Laurie Ferguson said, "I would commend the producers of this document BAPS CARE because it certainly gives a very good overview of your activities. From what we have heard today and what we have read in that, it is a commendable effort. In areas that I feel very strongly about, recycling, in attempts to take people off addictions, the efforts in regards to ending dowry and widow burning. The efforts in regards to disaster relief whether it be famine, whether it be drought, whether it be earthquakes. Although you are predominantly Gujarati, obviously in the history there, you have helped in a large number of other Indian states and around the world. So I want to join with you today on this very important, auspicious occasion in wishing you the best in a country which says that everyone has the right to practice their religion, that there are not restrictions, that we are a multicultural society which attempts to give everyone a fair go, a fair place in the sun."
3. Lord Mayor of the City of Parramatta, Mr. John Haines said, "Can I say that I have lived in this area for practically all my life, I am well aware of the other accommodations that were situated in this particular building over the many years and in actual fact some time ago it was suggested that the building itself would be pulled down and there would be other activities here on this particular site. And I must say I was very surprised when I walked in this morning to see what had been done to this particular building and I commend you on that. I have been a councilor for 22 years. This is my 22nd year on Paramatta city council and my sixth year as Lord Mayor. And on many occasions of course I have had to visit this area, this happens to be an area that I represent and I can assure you in past years there have been many comments about the activities particularly with local residents in this area. Can I just say that since your organisation has stepped into this area we have had not one complaint. I feel that the establishment of this temple, in this area of course, not only assists your people, your community but also many other communities in understanding of course the fact that we have such a significant diversity in our population. I am honoured to be here today for this particular ceremony, I can only say to you that you have the whole hearted support of Paramatta city council."
4. Representative for State of New South Wales, Mr. Stepan Kerkyasharian said, "I bring to you greetings from the Premier of New South Wales, the honourable Bob Carr, Minister for the Arts and also Minister for Citizenship. It is an honour that you have chosen Sydney for this important occasion and for the establishment of this temple. Your organisation, the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, with its international network of activities is contributing to the development of humanity, the maintenance of very basic human principles to which one of the earlier speakers referred. The wide ranging activities, international activities which include medical and educational care, environmental care, are all designed to provide those very basics which give a human being their personal dignity. It gives them power to overcome some of the evils which confront us like drug addiction. And the creation of a community through the establishment of this temple is a wonderful and a significant asset. It is a gift which you are giving today not only to the members of your organisation, Your Holiness, not only to your followers but to Sydney and to the people of New South Wales. This temple is a manifestation of the wonderful work that your organization carries out under your leadership. And it is important that these walls are filled with people, so that you can continue to give life, you can continue to give meaning to the principles for which you stand and for the principles you asperse.
Your Divine Holiness, you make us all proud to be here today and we thank you for your leadership and on behalf of the Premier I thank you, and I thank you all."
5. Mr. John Malcolm (a descendant of Sir John Malcolm) said, "In 1830, Sir John Malcolm was the Governor of Bombay which in those day included Gujarat. And at that time he wanted to introduce some social reforms to eliminate sati and female infanticide and the thought was to just pass a law and it would be abolished. But he said no, we cannot do this. These sorts of movements must come from the people themselves. And he had heard of a spiritual leader in Gujarat, Lord Swaminarayan. And he asked Lord Swaminarayan to visit him. And he did so on February 26th 1830 in Rajkot. And he received Lord Swaminarayan's blessings and asked him, 'Have you please got some sort of scripture by which I can understand your religion?' And Lord Swaminarayan offered him the Shikshapatri. On this auspicious occasion it is a great privilege and pleasure for me to meet the fifth successor of Lord Swaminarayan. I have seen now in various parts of the world, in London, in Amdavad, in Gandhinagar some of the wonderful things that have been done."
Finally, Swamishri blessed the assembly, saying, "God is everything for us. He is our life. It is because of Him that we are able to do everything. And that is why we consecrate His murti in a mandir and offer worship, darshan, prayer and sing His glory. By doing this we are blessed and graced with peace in our lives.
"The mandir is open to all, but one should avail of its divinity by observing its moral disciplines. Here, one should not engage in talks or behaviour that one does in the bazaar. The mandir is for the salvation of our souls. It is a place where our minds become calm and stable… "
The pratishtha ceremony was attended by 1,500 devotees and wellwishers from Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and other parts of Australia, India, USA, Europe, E. Africa and S. Africa.
4 February 2002 (VS 2058, Posh vad 7) Monday, Sydney
Today's national paper, 'The Sydney Morning Herald', carried a story of the murti pratishtha ceremony: 'Divine visitors bears blessings for the gods of Rosehill.'
"In his 81st year, he seems an improbable empire-builder. But millions of devotees, more than 8,000 branch offices and 680 sadhu disciples can't all be wrong… And yesterday, His Divine Holiness, who holds the world record for the most temples consecrated clocked up his 411th, bestowing his blessings on the newly installed marble gods at the Rosehill temple."
8 February 2002 (VS 2058, Posh vad 11) Friday, Sydney Children's Day
After his morning puja, Swamishri released balloons outside the mandir to the joy of children.
At 10.30 am, Mr. Ross Cameron, MP for Paramatta city, met Swamishri. Thereafter, Hon. Philip Ruddock, Federal Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and also Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation, met Swamishri and welcomed him to Australia.
o In the evening assembly, children presented speeches and kirtans. Then a drama called 'Mavtar' was performed by teenage and youth members. Finally, Swamishri addressed the assembly of parents to spend more quality time with their children.
9 February 2002 (VS 2058, Posh vad 12) Saturday, Sydney Kishore Day
In the afternoon while Swamishri was having lunch, the kishores sang the thal and recited passages from the Vachanamrut, Bhaktachintamani, Swamini Vato, etc. Swamishri explained and elaborated upon what each one of them said.
From 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm, a special women's convention was held in the mandir hall. The program included speeches by women and cultural programs by balikas and kishoris.
In the evening assembly, balaks and kishores impressively performed the ballet called 'Bhakta Prahlad'.
10 February 2002 (VS 2058, Posh vad 13) Sunday, Sydney
In the evening assembly, Shri Harikrishna Maharaj was festively welcomed into the assembly by costumed kishores carrying Him in a decorated palanquin. Thakorji was heralded in a festive and celebrative spirit and finally brought on stage. The assembly concluded with Swamishri's blessings and honor accorded to Harikrishna Maharaj.
11 February 2002 (V.S.2058, Posh vad 30) Monday, Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand)
Swamishri flew from Sydney to Auckland, arriving at 10.40 pm local time.
12 February 2002 (VS 2058, Posh vad 30) Tuesday, Auckland
At 7.00 pm, Swamishri arrived at the newly built mandir in Avondale. For the ritual opening, Swamishri released a bunch of balloons amidst joyous clappings. Then Vedic verses were sung while Swamishri performed pujan of the mandir entrance and inaugurated the opening of the mandir by untying the ribbon. Then Swamishri sanctified various parts of the mandir.
During the welcome assembly, the kishores of Auckland performed the welcome dance. Shri Durlabhbhai Patel, Chairman of BAPS Auckland, gave a welcome speech and thereafter various leading devotees offered bouquets to Swamishri. Finally, Swamishri blessed the assembly.
16 February 2002 (V.S.2058, Maha sud 4) Saturday, Auckland. Yagna and Nagar Yatra
As part of the murti pratishtha rituals, a yagna was arranged in the precincts of the newly built mandir. Around 40 yagna pits, 221 couples performed the yagna rituals. Swamishri performed the yagna rituals on the main stage. After performing the pujan of the deities, Swamishri blessed the participants saying, "In Hinduism, we always remember God before starting any work so that it is accomplished without any hindrances, we get peace and peace prevails in the world. Along with worshipping God, we also worship the demi-gods. By so doing they make the circumstances conducive for our work…"
From 3.00 pm to 5.30 pm, a grand procession of the murtis was carried out on the streets of Auckland. The murtis of Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Radha Krishna Dev, Guru Parampara, Sita Ram and Hanumanji, Shiv Parvatiji and Ganpati Dev were paraded in five decorated floats and a horse buggy. The entire procession was suffused with color and devotion through the marching band, dancing of costumed balaks and kishores, singing by sadhus and devotees, and women traditionally donned in saris carrying auspicious pots. The procession attracted the attention of bystanders and residents. The 3 km procession route finally terminated at the Swaminarayan Mandir in Avondale.
17 February 2002 (V.S.2058, Maha sud 5) Sunday, Auckland
Swamishri performed the murti pratishtha of the new mandir.