The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha organized its first international cultural festival in 1981 to mark the bicentenary celebrations of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. The festival site was spread across a lush, 200 acre campus in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The festival was celebrated for 37 days with a variety of spiritual, humanitarian, and cultural programs, including folk music and classical music performances by some of India’s leading pandits and maestros, theatrical and folk dance performances from all over India, and a special exhibit dedicated to world peace and universal brotherhood. The festival featured majestic gates and mandirs carved by Bengali artisans, highlighting the beauty of Indian art and architecture.
- More than 10,000 volunteers donated thousands of hours in service to prepare and operate the festival.
- More than 8 million people visited the festival grounds.
- Approximately 8,000 people promised to live addiction-free lives through intervention programs and de-addiction campaigns.
- A 3-day conference dedicated to religious harmony attracted more than 1,500 religious leaders to discuss religious tolerance and brotherhood.
- 207 educated youths dedicated their life to the service of God and the community by being initiated as sadhus.
- The festival restored an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood amidst severe tensions and communal riots in Ahmedabad.