Swamishri's presence is always a reason to celebrate.
Special days of festivals, then, are especially enriched with
jubilation whenever celebrated in his divine presence.
among all celebrations perhaps,
nothing arouses more auspiciousness and elation
than the end and beginning of a year.
year, in the presence of HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the 5-day festivals associated
with Diwali, including the Annakut festival and the Murti-pratishtha ceremony
in the Swaminarayan Haveli will be held in Chicago, USA.
is the last day (Aso vad 30) of the year in the Hindu calendar, and celebrations
begin two days before Diwali.
first festival is called Dhanteras (Aso vad
13; 24 Oct. 2000). On this day, money is worshipped (Lakshmi Pujan) as a symbol
of appreciation to the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Lakshmi Pujan is also performed
with sentiments of purifying ones wealth and that it be utilized for noble
purposes during the New Year.
the next day, Kali Chaudas (Aso vad 14; 25
Oct. 2000), Shri Hanumanji is worshipped to drive away all inauspicious and ill-omened
elements. On this day, Lord Krishna destroyed Narkasur and released the 16,000
damsels that the demon had imprisoned.
(Aso vad 30; 26 Oct. 2000), the last day of the year, is celebrated
because Lord Ram returned victorious to Ayodhya from his 14 year exile
in the forest. On this day, lamps are lighted as a symbol of jubilation
for Lord Rams return to Ayodhya and a sign to kindle the light
of knowledge and divinity within ones heart.
Chopada pujan or the ritual
for the sanctification of account books for the New Year is also held on this
Bestu Varsh or New Years
day (Kartik sud 1; 28 Oct. 2000) is the first day of the Indian calendar year.
It was the day when Lord Vaman was granted three steps of land from King Bali.
To fulfil the Lords third step, King Bali surrendered everything and earned
His eternal grace.
On New Years day, Lord Krishna stopped the tradition
of Indra puja in Gokul and introduced the ritual of offering fodder to cows and
worship to Mount Govardhan. Subsequently, Lord Indra (god of Rain) was angered
and rained mercilessly upon the village of Gokul. But Lord Krishna lifted Mount
Govardhan with his little finger and provided refuge and protection to the citizens
of Gokul. Hence, this day is also remembered as a reflection of Gods tremendous
power and the benefit of taking His refuge.
On the morning of New Years
day, Mahapuja is performed in Swaminarayan mandirs, where devotees participate
to seek the blessings of Lord Swaminarayan and the Guru. At 12 noon, as a symbol
of appreciation and prayers to remain God-centered, the Lord is offered a feast
of food items - called Annakut. A sumptuous and colorful array of vegetarian items,
decoratively arranged by the devotees and sadhus, are devoutly offered to the
decorative display of lighted candles had been arranged to greet Swamishri as
he arrived on stage for his morning puja. Swamishri bowed to the hundreds of devotees
who had gathered as he sat down and then performed his puja as the sadhus sang
festive devotional songs.
Swamishri exited his room in the early morning. Lighted lames and flowers decorated
his route out of his residence. When Swamishri arrived on stage for his morning
pooja, decorative arrangements of lighted candles of varied shapes and sizes greeted
him. Swamishri performed his pooja while sadhus sang festive devotional songs.
After pooja Swamishri bowed to the hundreds of devotees who had gathered for darshan
and bid them all "Jai Swaminarayan" on this auspicious Diwali day.
the evening, around 200 devotees filled the assembly hall of the new haveli to
participate in the traditional "chopda pujan" ceremony. After the ceremony
had concluded, Swamishri showered flower petals on all the books and blessed everyone
for success in their business ventures.
Swamishri then arrived in the
evening assembly being held in the giant tent adjacent to the new haveli.
and state political leaders had come to welcome Swamishri and received his blessings.
Swamishri also blessed the engineers and volunteers who had served in the project.
this blessings to the assembly Swamishri said, "Everybody experiences misery
and happiness at different times in their lives. But by maintaining firm faith
in God, we are able to remain at peace. To help us develop this peace, we have
mandirs and Satsang. We are fortunate to have the association of such Satsang,
so we should make the most of this opportunity and attain peace in our lives."