Jayanti and Ram Navmi Celebration in North America
The 227th birthday of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Ram Navmi were celebrated with grand festivities at BAPS mandirs in USA and Canda. Devotees gathered at the mandir to celebrate the birthday of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Ram who incarnated on earth on the same day - Chaitra Sud 9. Swaminarayan Jayanti is one of the most important festivals of the Swaminarayan Sampraday and the preparations began weeks in advance. The program commenced with prathana and devotional songs (kirtans) sung by the children. Children singing devotional songs impressed one and all. This was followed by various skits which centered on the theme of the program -"Kali mein sacho satyug aayo".
The contemporary social life during Bhagwan Swaminarayan's time was vastly different compared to life in India and Gujarat today. The 18th century was a time when India faced dire conditions. Superstitions were rampant, men robbed shamelessly, newborn baby girls were drowned in milk, women were forced to lie on the burning pyre of their dead husbands, and addictions such as alcohol, gambling, and smoking drove people to misery. Under these circumstances, Bhagwan Swaminarayan brought the warmth of affection, sympathy and protection with the goal of re-awakening the pride of Hindus. The betterment of society was by no means an easy task. However, through Bhagwan Swaminarayan's sublime love and intelligent teachings began to win the hearts of even the most skeptical observers. The skits presented how Bhagwan Swaminarayan brought about Satyug in Kalyug by reaching out to one and all and restoring their true moral and spiritual status."
After the skits, Pujya santos spoke about how Bhagwan Swaminarayan's work still continues today under the guidance and blessing of Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj. There were speeches on Bhagwan Ram's virtues of equanimity in honor and insult, steadfastness in life's vicissitudes and magnanimity towards devotees and dissenters alike. Some BAPS centers organized blood donation drives on this auspicious day while some organized programs of Akhand Dhun, Akhand Parayan and maha pujas.
At the end of the program, the BAPS children and teenagers enthusiastically performed a traditional dance. This was followed by arti and the kirtan, "Dharma Gher Anand Bhayo..." as Bhagwan Swaminarayan was cradled in a beautifully decorated swing filling the entire atmosphere with divinity.