The 91st birth anniversary of Pramukh Swami Maharaj was celebrated with great devotion on the evenings of Saturday 26 November, Friday 2 December and Saturday 3 December 2011 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
The actual birthday according to the Hindu calendar (Magshar sud 8) was celebrated on Friday 2 December 2011. Kishores and yuvaks began the evening assembly with dhun, prarthana and bhajans. The evening assembly was themed ‘Jeva Me Nirakhiya’, where Satyavrat Swami, Mangaltirth Swami and Yagnatilak Swami narrated personal prasangs with Swamishri, giving everyone an insight into how Swamishri had touched their lives. The evening concluded with a video of Swamishri’s blessings from the celebrations that had taken place in Mumbai earlier that morning.
The celebrations on Saturday 3 December 2011 were themed ‘Sant Param Hitakari’. This portrayed the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj through an inspiring programme of dramas, presentations and dances. Balaks, kishores and yuvaks all participated in the event to depict the seva, agna and hardships that Swamishri has faced in his life. The kishores and yuvaks sang the bhajan ‘Malya Mune Shastriji Maharaj’ to powerfully depict Swamishri’s first meeting with his guru after he had left Chansad to become a sadhu.
The programme also illustrated Swamishri’s vicharan in the UK. Prabuddhmuni Swami eloquently narrated prasangs of the hardships faced by Swamishri during his vicharan, while a video presentation rekindled cherished memories of all the years Pramukh Swami Maharaj has visited London between 1970 and 2007. The evening assembly concluded with Yogvivek Swami elaborating further on the exemplary life of Swamishri. He narrated incidents illustrating Swamishri’s devotion to Thakorji and love for devotees, explaining also how one can imbibe these virtues from his life.
An awards ceremony for high-achievers in the Satsang Exams was also held during the celebrations.
A similar festival had been organised by the mahilas one week earlier on Saturday 26 November 2011. Through a series of dances, dramas and inspiring speeches, they vividly portrayed Swamishri’s divine virtues. A medley of bhajans extolling his spiritual greatness provided the grand finale to the event.
Swamishri’s birth anniversary was also devoutly celebrated in various mandirs and centres across the UK and in Europe, including Birmingham, Coventry, Crawley, Leeds, Leicester, Paris, South-East London, Southend-on-Sea, Wellingborough and West London.