13 December 2007 witnessed the
kick-off of the four-day BAPS Centenary Celebrations with
a dazzling inauguration ceremony coupled with the celebration
of BAPS Youth Day based on the theme ‘Inspiring Values’.
The celebration, on a 300-acre site in Amdavad's Chandkheda
suburb on the Sabarmati-Gandhinagar highway, featured a spectacular
cultural programme with 2,000 youngsters performing on a 350
ft. stage to the delight of tens of thousands of spectators.
Inspired by His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj the
festival will inspire moral, cultural, and spiritual values
to commemorate a hundred years of service, sacrifice, and
spirituality of BAPS (Bochasanswasi Shri Akshar Purushottam
The Inauguration Ceremony
– ‘The Values of BAPS’
The programme commenced with a dance by BAPS youth waving
various countries’ flags representing the 3,300 BAPS
centres around the world welcoming the assembly. The Inauguration
Ceremony, ‘The Values of BAPS’, emphasized that
BAPS is founded on the values taught by Bhagwan Swaminarayan
and the succession of spiritual gurus. A 45-min. programme
of lively dances and enlightening commentary symbolically
highlighted six of the values that have shaped BAPS and inspired
millions through the last century. Through a series of unique
folk dances using an array of hundreds of spectacular props
and costumes, over 500 youngsters presented the values of:
(Philosophy) –BAPS is founded on the pillars of
the Vedic principle of Akshar and Purushottam, depicted
by a unique dance of sculpted pillars.
(Saintliness) - Refraining from harmful action, speech
and thought and wishing well to those who harm us is the
saintliness that is a foundational value of BAPS, depicted
by a graceful dance of pure-white swans symbolizing pristine
- Selfless service, devoid of ego, is a foundational value
of BAPS, depicted by a unique dance of youths offering service.
(Sacrifice) - Self-sacrifice, another foundational value
of BAPS, was depicted by a dance of life-like oxen symbolic
of selfless sacrifice.
- The power of BAPS is its unity. Despite being so vast,
BAPS is one family. This value was depicted by a vibrant
dance of the unity of doves.
(God-Realised Guru) - All the values of BAPS are founded
on and embodied by the Satpurush (Guru) within whom God
is ever-present. This value was celebrated with a dance
of divas ending in Pramukh Swami Maharaj lighting a lamp
to officially inaugurate the celebrations and kick-off a
spectacular fireworks display.
BAPS Youth Day Celebrations
After the inauguration ceremony began BAPS Youth Day celebrations,
focused on the theme “inspiring values”.
The Character of BAPS Youths
The first part of BAPS Youth Day asserted that over the last
four decades, through its core values, its social and cultural
activities, and the spiritual inspiration of its gurus, BAPS
has developed a host of ethical youths to serve as ideal members
of society. This was demonstrated through a series of real-life
incidents of BAPS youth around the world.
the value of honesty was Dhulabhai Patel of Amdavad
who returned Rs. 50,000 that he found in the street, although
he desperately required Rs.10,000 for his daughter’s
incident showed Kantibhai Darji of Mumbai returning
Rs. 10,000 he found on the street while on his way to take
a Rs. 2,000 loan for a cataract operation he urgently required.
In addition to moral rectitude, some incidents showed BAPS
youth maintaining spiritual traditions in extreme circumstances.
Kara of London maintained his daily rituals of bathing,
puja, arti and religious discourses even while climbing
Patel (Dallas, USA) maintained his promise to his guru,
Yogiji Maharaj to remain vegetarian while defending his
country for 8 years as a soldier in the Rhodesian Civil
War, even if it meant not eating for 3-4 days at a stretch.
Successful BAPS Youth with
The second part of the youth day programme showed that BAPS
encourages youth to strive for overall excellence. A series
of inspiring real-life incidents demonstrated that BAPS youth
who attained social, educational, and professional excellence,
used their abilities to selflessly serve family and society.
Patel of London, a promising graphic art student
sacrificed his spot at a premier college to serve his ailing
Parekh, an Oxford engineer from London has volunteered
3000 hours to offer educational and career-skills assistance
to 500 needy youth.
Gadhia IIM-B Graduate of New Delhi forsook a
flashy lifestyle to dedicate his life to honorary social
services, perhaps the first such student in IIM’s
Parikh, an IIT Post-Graduate of Amdavad dedicated
his life to honorary social service and promotion of cultural
heritage by building schools, hospitals, villages, mandirs
& cultural centres worldwide.
Jodhani, an acclaimed eye surgeon of Amdavad,
has performed thousands of free eye operations for needy
patients in remote areas.
Bhuva of Bhavnagar has inspired more than 7,000 to give
up destructive addictions.
BAPS Youths – Torchbearers
The third part of the Youth Day programme used dramas, videos,
and personal testimony to show that through their purity of
character, BAPS youth have inspired personal transformation
in individuals, communities and society.
‘Eke Hajara’, depicted how the village of
Nava Samera, mired in addictions and violence, was transformed
by a single BAPS youth, Purushotam Solanki, whose purity
of heart inspired people towards better living.
showed that this tale of transformation was not confined
to a single village. The inspiring lives of BAPS youth,
Dr. Bathubhai Desai of Sunsar village, Sarpanch Dahyabhai
Solanki of Petli, and Raychand Darbar of Kosumkuva had transformed
the entire villages.
Yeshwant Jethwa’s astounding real-life story,
showed how in the face of the naxalite terrorist menace,
BAPS youth have transformed not just villages but entire
regions, uprooting hatred and sowing love in the hearts
on BAPS Youth Activities – ‘The Spirit
of Selfless Service’ showed that in addition to
serving society by inspiring societal transformation through
their character, BAPS youth also offer millions of hours
of selfless service in countless humanitarian projects.
a dance called the ‘Power of Unity’, it
was asserted that despite different socio-economic, educational,
and national backgrounds, such modern-day miracles were
possible because BAPS youth are united under one guru, one
philosophy and one goal.
a video titled, ‘Swamishri & Youths’
showed that Pramukh Swami Maharaj is the force behind BAPS
youth. By nurturing the youth with selfless love, he has
held their hands to lift them to greater heights.
The 3-hour programme
was capped with the blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who
The entire programme
was concluded with a spectacular fireworks display.
with the Vedic teachings of Akshar and Purushottam (i.e. Bhakta-Bhagwan
tradition) revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830CE), Shastriji
Maharaj installed the murtis of Akshar (Gunatitanand Swami)
alongside that of Purushottam (Bhagwan Swaminarayan) in Bochasan
Mandir on 6 June 1907. From that beginning, the organization
came to be known as the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam
Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS).
Celebrations of this United Nations affiliated social-spiritual
organization with 3,300 global centres, 700 mandirs, 780 sadhus,
55,000 volunteers and one million followers will continue on
14, 15 and 17 December 2007, with Women’s Day, Children’s
Day and Guru Bhakti Day (87th Birthday Celebrations of Pramukh
Swami Maharaj), respectively. All programs will be telecast
live every day from 5:30pm to 8:30pm on Aastha.
Reports of each
day of the celebrations will be posted in the Media Info section
of the BAPS website at www.swaminarayan.org.