Sunday, May 26, 2002, Toronto, Canada
BAPS Toronto celebrated the 'Haveli Commencement Ceremony' with grandeur. The traditional panch murti adorned the exquisite backdrop of the stage, which announced the 1st phase of the haveli construction and an artistic rendition of the haveli. The ceremony was performed by the pujaris, presided by Pujya Yagnavallabh Swami and amongst the yajmans were Jagdishbhai Patel, Harishbhai Patel. The chanting of the Vedic rites and Swaminarayan Mahamantra created an ambience of serenity and blissful devotion. Towards the end of the ceremony, the pujari adeptly prayed for Swamishri's continued good health and the completion of haveli without any hindrance.
The Honorable Carl DeFaria, Provincial Minister of Citizenship and Immigration who was representing the Premiere Of Ontario, commented that the enormous task Swamishri has undertaken inorder to provide a cultural complex for South Asians is laudable. He assured the gathering that his Ministry would be ever ready to aid BAPS because it is organizations like BAPS that add richness to Ontario.Roy Cullen, a long time friend of BAPS, remarked that the building of this haveli would allow for a fruitful bliss for community expansion and building on strong eastern values in a western community. He could not think of a better way to build bridges between the diverse cultures of Canada.Rajnikant Verma, the High Commissioner of India, flew in from Ottawa, the nations capital, in order to partake in the festivities. He thanked Swamishri for placing Hinduism and India on the map of the world.
Rami Gill, the provincial MP, was instrumental in passing a private members bill which eventually resulted in May being designated as “Asian Heritage Month.” He reminded us that when he first arrived in Canada in 1968, there was no place of worship or a place where a particular culture could be imbibed in the next generation. He took this opportunity to thank Swamishri for providing a place for diverse cultures to bond.
Councilor Susan Hall was thrilled to be a part of this important milestone of the Toronto BAPS. She remarked at the organization of the event and was impressed with the volunteer efforts of the people. She is a long time friend and supporter of BAPS, however was intrigued that we bestow the title of "saint" upon our sadhus. In Hinduism, the title of "saint" is bestowed upon individuals based on their contribution to society. These saints have chosen a lifestyle that aids them in their pursuit of salvation as well as benefits society at large. They have selflessly dedicated their lives for the betterment of society and are the guiding lights for our society. Using the African Proverb “It takes an entire community to raise a child” she remarked that the BAPS haveli and cultural complex will inspire people / parents from diverse cultures to come together and imbibe strong moral values in their children who will then eventually serve Councilor Hall expressed gratitude for Swamishri for blessing Toronto and Canada with this magnanimous project of building bridges between cultures.
Following the ceremony, a special assembly was held to mark the