The festivals of Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi were celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion on Tuesday 12 April 2011 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. The traditional annakut – a grand variety of food to mark this auspicious occasion – was offered to the deities, and at 12 noon, the sadhus performed a special arti to commemorate the birth of Shri Ramchandraji.
Worshippers were able to rock the cradle of Shri Ramchandraji and were given the opportunity of offering abhishek to the sacred image of Shri Nilkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan) in the evening.
In the evening assembly, sadhus and youths sang bhajans extolling the glory of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shri Ramchandraji. These were interspersed with short discourses by sadhus, who spoke of the six reasons for Bhagwan Swaminarayan incarnating on earth, including the way in which he liberated so many souls and established Ekantik Dharma. Yogvivek Swami concluded the assembly by elaborating upon the last reason – the legacy of mandirs, scriptures, and the guru parampara. The assembly culminated with joyous celebrations of the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan at precisely 10:10pm.
Swaminarayan Jayanti was also celebrated on the evening of Saturday 16 April 2011 with a special enactment of the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan – from his birth and childhood, through to his pilgrimage across India as a youth, and the moral and spiritual transformation of countless people throughout his life. Children, youths and senior devotees played the roles of pivotal characters during the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan supported by discourses from sadhus who explained the impact he had upon so many. The dramas depicted the naming ceremony of Ghanshyam Maharaj, his greatness as narrated by Ramanand Swami to Lalji Suthar, as well as the life of Kalyandas of Kadu. The grand finale was delivered through a colourful and vibrant dance to celebrate the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
The Mahila Mandal (Women’s Forum) celebrated Swaminarayan Jayanti on Saturday 9 April 2011 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden. The theme was based on Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s divine leela exemplifying his love and affection. Interspersed with speeches as well as bhajans composed by the paramhansas, the programme provided an opportunity to further understand some of the divine qualities of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
In addition to the celebrations in London, Swaminarayan Jayanti and Rama Navmi were also celebrated at various mandirs and centres across the UK and Europe.