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81st Birthday Celebration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj
23 December 2001, Sankari


Prior to his morning puja, Swamishri arrived for Thakorji's darshan and the murti pratishtha ceremony of five mandirs in the villages of Japi, Mohadi, Galvala, Kusumba and Sonagir in the Khandesh region. Swamishri performed the murti pratishtha arti of Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj and deities and worshipped them with kumkum and rice grains. Thereafter Swamishri blessed the devotees of Khandesh with a shower of rice grains. Swamishri then praised the Satsang in Khandesh which was established by Shastriji Maharaj and Nirgundas Swami. In his blessings, Swamishri happily remembered the services and sacrifices of the devotees of Khandesh and appreciated the devotion and efforts of the devotees in building the new mandirs. Finally, Swamishri was honored with a garland of puffed rice grains by the devotees.

Thereafter, Swamishri arrived at the large canopied hall for his morning puja. The stage decoration had a backdrop of floral designs, a giant cake in the foreground and birthday greeting cards flanked on either side of Swamishri's puja platform. The sadhus charged the morning air with bhajans, extolling the virtues of Swamishri. After the puja, a 'Guru Pujan' ceremony was held to honor and pay respects to Swamishri on his birthday. Pujya Kothari Swami performed pujan of Thakorji and tied a nada chhadi on Swamishri's wrist. Then Pujya Mahant Swami, Pujya Dr Swami and Pujya Kothari Swami conveyed the birthday greetings by presenting bouquets on behalf of everyone. Swamishri asked the senior sadhus to bless him so that he could do more service for Satsang.

In the evening the mammoth birthday celebration was festively held in a large field near the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Over 100,000 devotees had arrived from all over Gujarat, Mumbai and abroad to pay their respects to Swamishri.
The large decorated stage provided an aesthetic backdrop for the memorable celebration. The assembly commenced at 4.45 p.m. with the Swaminarayan dhun and prayers. Thereafter, Swamishri's saintly virtues, as described by Nishkulanand Swami in the Bhaktachintamani - Eva Santne namu hu shish… - were elaborated upon by sadhus. The virtues included Swamishri's mental equipoise, self control, compassion, simple nature, inspiration for character- building, relieving of miseries, absolute celibacy and his total devotion to God.
At 5.45 p.m., Swamishri arrived on the main stage amidst a tumultuous welcome. A dynamic and colorful welcome dance was performed by kishores.
Pujya Viveksagar Swami narrated incidents about Swamishri's intense faith and conviction in the all-doership of Shriji Maharaj. Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami extolled Swamishri's absolute observance of the vow of celibacy prescribed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Pujya Dr Swami threw light on the subject of God as the panacea to all ills. He described that the holy Sadhu is the doer of the highest good because he joins all in God. God is the goal of life and to attain that the holy Sadhu is the only means. Pujya Mahant Swami described Swamishri's unbroken communion with God.
Two large on-site video screens provided an excellent view of the stage programs. Swamishri then kindled a lamp to launch the Swaminarayan Mahamantra rallies. Thereafter, the senior sadhus kindled the mahamantra torches from the lamp. These torches will be carried in the Mahamantra Bicentenary rallies in 45 regions of Gujarat, Mumbai, etc. from 25 December 2001 to 5 January 2002.
After the torch-kindling ceremony, BAPS youths performed an impressive torch dance. The thematic dance showed Swamishri's efforts in spreading the light of Bhagwan Swaminarayan's life and message.
Then Swamishri was honored with garlands by senior sadhus and devotees. After inaugurating several Aksharpith audio and print publications, a slide show on the verses describing the glory of the holy Sadhu, 'Eva Santne Namu Hu Shish…' was shown. This visual presentation culminated in a mantra pushpanjali ceremony where over 100,000 devotees payed their reverence and respects to Swamishri by showering petals.
Then the entire congregation and viewers of the live telecast joined in offering prayers for peace in India and throughout the world by singing the Swaminarayan dhun.
Then a sea of lamps, more than 100,000, was kindled for the arti. The breathtaking scene of devotion imbued the air with divinity and spiritual joy.

Finally, Swamishri blessed the mammoth gathering of devotees, "One's life should be pure to spread the torch kindled and propagated by Bhagwan Swaminarayan and subsequently spread by Gunatitanand Swami, Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj. To purify one's life one must obey the moral commands prescribed in the Shikshapatri and offer upasana to Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Upasana means to believe God to be the all-doer. If one realizes the glory of God then one shall see virtues in everyone". By looking at another's fault or speaking ill of someone, one cannot hope to gain happiness and unity….
The entire celebration was telecast live in more than 156 countries of Asia, Europe, Africa and USA.

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© 2001, Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Swaminarayan Aksharpith