24 June 2007 (V.S. 2063, Nij Jeth sud 9) Sunday, Houston; Welcome Assembly
Swamishri arrived in Houston the previous day at 12.05 pm from Chicago. The Sugarland Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Parmar welcomed Swamishri at the Sugarland regional airport and presented a proclamation. The evening welcome assembly was arranged in honour of Swamishri. The assembly was held in a giant marquee in the mandir precincts. A three dimensional replica of Akshardham was the highlight of the stage backdrop. After Swamishri’s arrival BAPS teenagers and youths performed a traditional welcome dance. Then, on behalf of everyone, Tyagvallabh Swami and Viveksagar Swami garlanded Swamishri. The consul general of India in Houston Shri Shankar Gavai addressed the assembly, “I am really honoured to be here and I welcome Pramukh Swamiji. I had just sat with him for half an hour and he conveyed his simple message on humanity and spiritualism. The volunteer work exercised by the volunteers is exemplary for all.” More than 28 heads of different social and religious organizations welcomed Swamishri with bouquets. The BAPS children and teenagers performed a welcome dance. Finally, BAPS children and teenagers performed another welcome dance. Thereafter Swamishri crowned the assembly with his blessings, “We should never forget our wealth, culture and values while doing our jobs or business. You have come from India, bringing with you your dharma, culture and values. Like the way you look after your money, which you will later give to your children, look after our spiritual wealth and give it as a legacy to your children. Our culture is ancient. Bhagwan Ram and Krishna incarnated on earth. One should read the wonderful Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Ramayan and other shastras. Daily reading of shastras will purify one’s thoughts and life. Just as you take care of your needs and use objects, similarly you must read our spiritual books, do puja and keep a mandir in the house.” More than 4,000 devotees were present. In the following days Kishore Day, Children’s Day and Youth Day were celebrated.
30 June 2007 (V.S. 2063, Nij Jeth sud 15) Saturday, Houston; Tricennial Celebration
Swamishri first visited Houston in 1977 and launched satsang. Today the tricennial celebration of Houston Satsang was arranged. The Mayor of Irving City (near Dallas) Mayor Herbert Gears honoured Swamishri and presented a proclamation and Key to the City. Thereafter Swamishri performed the murti-pratishtha rituals of pujan and arti of three hari mandirs: Little Rock (Arkansas), Austin (Texas) and San Antonio.
In the afternoon a Women’s Convention was held. The chief guest was Texas State Representative Linda Harper Brown who presented a Resolution to commemorate the BAPS Centenary Year Celebration.
The evening tricennial celebration programme portrayed three decades of Swamishri’s effort in establishing and fostering Satsang. The first decade portrayed Swamishri’s colossal effort through home visits and personal contact. The second decade showed Swamishri’s profound love in fostering Satsang and the final decade reflected the transformations he has inspired. The entire programme was interspersed with speeches and cultural programmes. Krishnaprem Swami and Anandswarup Swami spoke on how Swamishri transforms the lives of people.
In conclusion Swamishri blessed the assembly, “By the grace and glory of Bhagwan Swaminarayan we have been blessed with spiritual knowledge. And in his tradition of Gunatit disciples Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj have explained to us the principle of Akshar and Purushottam. Also, they have inspired us with the virtues of dharma, gnan, vairagya and bhakti, and guided us on how to eradicate base nature, addictions and bad habits.”
Regional BAPS Centenary Year Celebration
1 July 2007 (V.S. 2063, Nij Jeth vad 7) Sunday, Houston; BAPS Centenary Year Celebration
Swamishri celebrated the Mandir patotsav (anniversary) on 1 July and devotees celebrated Guru Bhakti Din (3 July).
In the evening celebration assembly of BAPS Centenary Year Swamishri was festively welcomed by the Dallas band and flag-waving devotees. Prior to Swamishri’s arrival speeches by Viveksagar Swami and Ishwarcharan Swami and cultural programmes were over. To honour Swamishri the youths performed the traditional dance performed during the opening of Akshardham in New Delhi. Then Anandswarup Swami spoke on Swamishri’s works. Swamishri was then honoured with garlands by senior sadhus. The chief guests, Ralph O’Connor and Dr Kulin Pandya, were honoured and blessed on stage. Thereafter Anirdesh Swami and Atmatrupt Swami inspired all devotees to take one step forward in Satsang by making moral and spiritual pledges.
Finally, Swamishri blessed the function, “Today, in the festive celebration the sadhus have guided you on the purpose of one’s human birth on earth. God has endowed us with a human body and graced us with all senses and intellect. So whatever we do for God would not be enough. We remain indebted to someone who has helped us. Indian culture teaches us that we are indebted to parents and society. Likewise we are indebted to God for giving us this human birth. May we do good works: have darshan of God with our eyes, listen to his glory with our ears, walk to the mandir with our legs. So we must put our body to good use. God has given us everything but if he hadn’t given us intellect then we would not have progressed. Because of intellect we studied and graduated and acquired many things in life. The reason for whatever we have attained is God, dharma and our shastras.”
Finally youths performed a dance on the lyrics “Akshar Purushottam nã dankã…” Swamishri also waved the flag and crowned the centenary celebration assembly.