CHINO HILLS, CA: Sages, poets, and devotees have hailed Bhagwan as a hitakari, a moral and spiritual benefactor, as impartial as the sun shining upon all within its perimeter. This quality of Bhagwan, to ensure well-being of all without distinction, was brought to the fore in this year’s annual celebration of Swaminarayan Jayanti and Ram Navmi.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chino Hills, CA celebrated the 230th birth anniversary of Bhagwan Swaminarayan on April 10. Falling on Chaitra Sud 9, which also marks the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Shri Ram, this day is one of the most celebratory events of the Swaminarayan Sampraday. Excitement and devotion abounds on this occasion as children, youth, and adults engage in various spiritual endeavors including chanting the Swaminarayan mantra, observing a nirjala fast, and preparing for a grand celebration.
This year’s celebration expounded on the theme of “Sarvajivahitãvaha” to highlight one of the chief motives for Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s incarnation on Earth – to grant ultimate salvation to all by facilitating their physical, moral, and spiritual well-being. As exemplified through drama performances and discourses, Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s limitless compassion, propelled him to undertake a journey across the Indian subcontinent.
Through his travels, words, and deeds, he inspired a spiritually enriched way of life as prescribed in the scriptures. And to those who lead such lives, he guaranteed ultimate salvation. Anecdotes relating to the transformations of Sagram Vaghri and Joban Pagi were also reiterated. Bhagwan Shri Ram, similarly liberated Ahalya from Gautama’s curse and granted liberation to Shabari by eating her berries. Bhagwan Shri Ram exemplified the role of an ideal son and brother – through his interaction with him family members, whether it was stepping down from the throne to coronate his younger brother, Bharat, as king – or obeying the wish of his father to leave Ayodhya for 14 years.
Through the cultural festivities hosted by the BAPS youth wing, and festivities hosted by the Mahila wing on April 17, devotees were able imbibe the legacy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Bhagwan Shri Ram into their contemporary lifestyles, including values of sacrifice – learned from Bhagwan Shri Ram’s life, as well as vegetarianism – which Bhagwan Swaminarayan encouraged through the scripture he wrote entitled Shikshapatri.
Today, Pramukh Swami Maharaj continues the legacy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan by inspiring the construction of mandirs where such cultural enrichment can take place. The program included a unique portion which featured some of the unique architecture and carvings of the mandir that is currently being built in Chino Hills.
The samaiyo featured youths participating in traditional dances as well as a grand procession for the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, also lovingly known as Thakorji. Many youths participate in such events because they get to interactively learn more about the significance of rituals and festivities, as well as help pass on these values to others and apply the skills they learn into other aspects of their lives.
Kirtan Patel, of Diamond Bar, CA expressed his joy by saying: “As a youth participant, learning about the heritage and culture, I was able to practice my public speaking skills. This helps me at school, and will undoubtedly help me in the future.”
The festive atmosphere continued as the assembly joined in singing the Janamasutsav, “Dharma gher anand bhayo, jay bolo Ganshyam ki.”
India Post News Service