9 April 2000, Edison, NJ: Shree Hari Jayanti Samaiyo
It is believed that a measure of one’s real greatness is the greatness
of one’s followers. If this is true, Lord Swaminarayan was a truly remarkable
personality, for he had devotees who had the strongest moral convictions,
most virtuous attributes, and highest degree of devotion towards the
God, even in his lifetime. It was the birth of this divine personality
and emancipator of morality; and the birth of Lord Rama that were celebrated
with great zeal at the BAPS temple in Edison. With traditional Indian
dances and music and rousing dramas all performed by children and youths,
the Shree Hari Jayanti
Five thrilling dramas depicting the incidents from the lives of great disciples of Shree Sahajanand Swami were performed to illustrate their exemplary character. There was Abhesinh darbar, who, even at the bequest of a king refused to drink alcohol because of his firm abstinence from alcoholic drinks. There was the inspiring drama of Govind Bhangi. He was a poor gardener from the lowest caste of society who found gold jewelry of the queen of Junagadh, but returned it because it was all his moral conscience allowed him to do. The lively anecdote Kimo Suthar depicted that we should have total faith in the god only and not in any black magic, or voodoo rituals. A play of Devji Bhagat highlighted an ideal understanding of devotees. When his son died he did not mourn, but rather took total refuge in God.
Balaks and kishores sang beautiful devotional songs, to commemorate the births of Lord Rama and Sahajanand Swami. The tabla, dholaka, and harmonium, all of which were played by the youths, accompanied their harmonious tunes. Their awesome love towards God could be captured in their bhajans. Indian dances were also performed with the same enthusiasm and love for God. Children young as 5 participated in these dances where traditional Indian costumes were worn and the balaks and kishores danced to the traditional bhajans.
The power of mantras, especially that of the Swaminarayan Mahamantra, were showcased during the Samaiyo through a bhajan and a spectacular exhibition. This astounding exhibition, researched and prepared by the girls, explored the importance of various religions’ mantras, and the origins of the Ohm. It focused on the Swaminarayan mantra and its place in the daily lives, especially because its bicentennial celebrations will occur next year.
A youth gave a beautiful speech spoken entirely in Gujarati on Lord Rama and his glory. He spoke about the divine exploits of Lord Rama and about him spreading righteousness throughout India. Pujya Yagnavallabh Swami gave a speech on the impact of the Satsang on today’s children. Pujya Shantipriya Swami spoke on the upcoming Museum of Indian Heritage and the efforts that will be required in building it. An innovative workbook in the Hindu literature for children - “Satsang Amrut” was inaugurated. This book was an instant hit.
The festival was also “tasteful”! After the samaiyo, Mahaprasadam was served to all. 200 years ago the great Paramhansa Bhunmanand Swami has composed a beautiful Thaal that listed 18 items offered to God. The Mahaprasadam, prepared by the ladies volunteers, included all 18 items that ranged from Mango Ras to Kheer to Vantak Valor Shaak to Puri.