Sunday, October 27, 2002
Honorable Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the Vice-President of India, visited the BAPS Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Cleveland, USA, on Sunday October 27, 2002. He was accompanied by his son-in-law and ex-member of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly Mr. Narpat Singh Rajvi, the Deputy Consul General of India (New York) Mr. Ashok Tomar, the Secretary to the Vice-President of India Mr. Anil Kumar, the Personal Physician to the Vice-President of India Dr. Rathare, and other dignitaries. The Vice-President was in Cleveland to address his health care needs.
The Vice-President was received at the Mandir by Dr. Vinod Patel, the Vice-President of BAPS-USA, Mr. Narhari Patel, Mr. Chandrakant Patel and Indra Shah, Esquire. The Pujari of the Mandir Mr. Rajni Rajguru gave him a traditional welcome with the Chandlo vidhi and by tying the Nada-Chhadi. Honorable Shekhawat had Darshan of the Mandir Murtis and then attended a special Sabha in his honor.
Dr. Vinod Patel formally introduced the Vice-President. On behalf of BAPS-USA, he then garlanded him and presented him with a token of appreciation (a book titled “Tunes of Inspiration”). Mr. Indra Shah was the Master of Ceremonies and introduced the leaders of the community who welcomed the Vice-President of India with a bouquet of flowers. Among the many leaders present were Mr. Guru Bhandari, the President of the Federation of India Community Associations (FICA), Mr. Ratanjit Singh Sondhe, a leading businessman and a representative of the Sikh community, Mr. Iqbal Ahmed, the President of the local Muslim community, Mr. Indra Shah, the Chairman of the Outreach Community Board of the City of Eastlake, Ohio, Dr. Mohan Bafna of the FICA Board of Trustees, and Mr. Ashok Bhatt of the Public Utilities Commission of San Francisco, California.
The Vice-President then addressed the assembly. He mentioned that he was very happy that all the Indians are acting as messengers to promote the Indian culture and heritage (sanskruti) across the world. India may not be able to compete with the other nations in terms of economic strength but in terms of sanskruti no country can compete with India. He reaffirmed that with the commitment of the people, India’s economic status will improve to a great extent and to some extent be like that of nations like the USA. He had come to the USA to address his health care needs on a few different occasions and on each of those occasions he had left India with the blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. With those blessings, he received inner strength and attained peace of mind which helped him with the recovery. He shared with the audience that he firmly believes that his peace of mind is due to the blessing of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Honorable Shekhawat further said that Swamishri has helped spread the Indian culture across the world. It is a great mission. He is continuing the mission of Swami Vivekananda and in a very unique way promoting the culture of India in the world.
He further recalled that when the London Mandir was being built, he remembered seeing all the volunteers such as engineers, doctors and leading businessmen working hard to build the Mandir. He was amazed by the commitment of the people. He has constantly asked Swamishri how he has inspired people to unite and work hard, and Swamishri has in turn invited him to spend a few days with him in order to learn the secret. He has requested Swamishri to promote his message in Rajasthan and build Mandirs there as well.
He then expressed his happiness to have been received by all the Mandir devotees and community leaders and was very happy to have had the Darshan of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and to have had the reception.
Despite his tight schedule, the Vice-President was with the members of the community from 1:30 pm to 2:15 pm. The Mandir Coordinator Mr. Chandrakant Patel thanked Honorable Vice-President for bestowing upon the devotees the honor of his visit.