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January 1999
29 January 99 Badalpur, India Inauguration of 'Pramukh Swami Sarvoday Vidyalay'.
21 January 99 Mahelav, India Declaring the celebration of the Murti-pratishtha Mahotsav & Swamishri's 79th Birthday to be held in Tithal.
21-22 January 99 Mahelav, India Shastriji Maharaj's Birthday Celebration and Murti-pratishtha Mahotsav
14 January 99 Amdavad, India Joli Utsav.
10 January 99 London, UK British High Commissioner Sir Rob Young visits Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
9 January 99 Amdavad, India Meeting with Pujya Shri Acharya Dharmendraji Maharaj.
5-8 & 14-16 January 99 Australia Towards Better Living Camps.
1 January 99 Wellingborough, UK Akhand Dhun Utsav.

29 January 99, Friday, Badalpur, India: Inauguration of 'Pramukh Swami Sarvoday Vidyalay'.

After the inauguration ceremony of a school, 'Pramukh Swami Sarvoday Vidyalaya' Shri Madhavsinh Solanki, the former Chief Minister of Gujarat, addressed the assembly, saying, "I have met many Gurus but I find peace and happiness in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. After a lot of work and stress all day one finds peace when one sits before Swamishri. Whenever I have sat with him I have always experienced this wonderful feeling." Swamishri, in his blessings, said, "Today, there is a need to teach spiritual and moral character in the academic curriculum. Because education without character is destructive. And education with character protects the individual. When righteous conduct is taught in schools it brings peace to the students and others. The children should be alert and willing to learn from their teachers, and the teachers should be enthusiastic to teach their students and the parents should take interest in encouraging their children to study. One always needs to be alert and particular in encouraging them in this direction."

21 January 99, Thursday, Mahelav, India: Declaring the celebration of the Murti-pratishtha Mahotsav & Swamishri's 79th Birthday to be held in Tithal.

On the eve of Vasant Panchmi, 21 Jan, Swamishri declares to a group of 100 devotees from Tithal about the celebration of the Murti-pratistha mahotsav for the newly built Swaminarayan mandir in Tithal.Received with great enthusiasm, Swamishri then encourages and inspires them for the tremendous task and effort required of them. And thenafter a senior sadhu announces that Swamishri's 79th birthday celebration for 1999 will be held in Tithal . An official announcement of the Murti-pratistha mahotsav and Swamishri's 79th birthday celebration in Tithal was made on 22 Jan, Vasant Panchmi, in the main assembly, comprising of more than 30,000 devotees.

The Guru of thousands begging for alms with the call of 'Narayan Hare...'

Thousands que up to offer contributions towards the social and spiritual activities of the sanstha, at the feet of Pramukh Swami

14 January 1999, Thursday, Amdavad, India: Joli Utsav.

Today was Uttarayana, a day of kite flying and alms-giving to sadhus and sanyasis. It was the highlight of Swamishri's 15-day stay. To celebrate Uttarayana in the presence of Swamishri was a day of great honour and joy for thousands of devotees. Hundreds of thousands of devotees began flocking to the mandir as early as 5.30 a.m. A dozen spirited youths had arranged an avenue of kites hanging overhead and a decorative flower path for Swamishri. The mandir sanctum sanctorum was filled with a decoration of colourful kites. After Thakorji's darshan, Swamishri came to perform his puja in the assembly hall. Thereafter the festival assembly commenced wherein Pujya Viveksagar Swami explained the significance of Uttarayana. Finally Swamishri, in his blessings, addressed a gathering of 17,000 devotees. Swamishri elaborated on the glory of charity : "The shastras mention several types of charity, namely; giving food grains, land, clothes and knowledge. The fruit of this type of charity is worldly or physical in nature. However, Shriji Maharaj told His sadhus to give charity that will make people eternally happy and free from fear. This charity is called 'abhaydan'. Man has mental, physical and political fears. To be redeemed of them is called 'abhaydan'. And 'abhaydan' can be given by a God-realised sadhu. He inspires and guides us to take God's refuge, offer devotion to Him and elevate us to God's abode." After Swamishri concluded his blessings, he stood up to place two sanctified 'joli' (begging cloth-bag) on his shoulders. This was the climax of the occasion, where Swamishri himself was going to say the traditional call for the begging of alms. However, prior to this, Swamishri explained the tradition of begging alms in the time of Shriji Maharaj. And then narrated how he used to beg alms in the time of Shastriji Maharaj. "When one sadhu calls for the alms he says, 'Narayan Hare Sacchidanand Prabho' and then the other repeats it, 'Narayan Hare Sacchidanand Prabho.' Each time Swamishri uttered the call, he folded his hands, closed his eyes and gently bowed before the assembly. The moment was received with a thunder of claps. Swamishri then sat on the stage as 17,000 devotees filed passed him, placing their donations in the joli. Several young children had cut their kite flying expenses and donated the money on that day. A ten-year old child had saved for two years and offered a part of his savings on the occasion. Swamishri patiently gave darshan to all the devotees, sitting continuously from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. In conclusion Swamishri appreciated the festival arrangements and said, "The festival was A-1, the planning was A-1 and the arrangements were A-1".

10 January 1999, Sunday, London, UK: British High Commissioner Sir Rob Young visits Shri Swaminarayan Madir.

On Sunday, 10 January, 99 Sir Rob Young (the British High Commissioner to India) visited the Mandir and also addressed the evening assembly. His opinion, "Beautiful building for an inspiring religious experience" was seconded with his wish to visit all the pilgrim places in India and to experience the glory for himself. He was impressed with the dedication with which Indians have worked to carve a living outside their own country, and in the process have added the colour of their culture to other lands.


British High Commissioner Sir Rob Young at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London

9 January 1999, Saturday, Amdavad, India: Meeting with Pujya Shri Acharya Dharmendraji Maharaj.

After Swamishri's blessings, Pujya Shri Acharya Dharmendraji Maharaj, a profound scholar, speaker and Vaishnavacharya, arrived in the evening sabha.Today was Acharya Dharmendraji's birthday. He was honored and welcomed by Swamishri with a garland of flowers and he too in turn garlanded Swamishri. In his blessings, Acharya Dharmendraji Maharaj explained, "....Today in our age we see the growing influence of Kaliyuga and its darkness. And on the other hand having the darshan of sadhus like Pramukh Swami Maharaj one is blessed with the power of fearlessness. One also experiences inner consolation and confidence... God comes with His powers and manifests through a sadhu. We are proud to say that we have such a manifest form of God in Pramukh Swami Maharaj..."

5-8 & 14-16 January 1999, Tuesday, Australia: Towards Better Living Camps .

More than 125 balaks, balikas, kishores and kishoris attended the two Towards Better Living Camps at Sydney and Perth, held from 5-8 January and 14-16 January 1999. It was the first time such a camp had been organised in Australia. During the camps, there were lectures and presentations on Vegetarianism, Study Techniques, India's Contribution to the World, Peer Pressure, Matru Devo Bhava, Prayer - The Greatest Force of Mankind, Need for Guru, Inspiring Stories from India, Life of Lord Swaminarayan, Pramukh Swami Maharaj - Life, Message and Mission, Our Greatest Hero and A Day in the Life of a Sadhu. Also, many recreational activities were arranged during the camps. At the end competitions wee held to recap the messages of the camps and prizes were awarded. Before departing, many of the children and teenagers undertook vows to bow down to parents daily, learn Gujarati, perform puja daily, to attend the weekly assemblies, to study regularly and to refrain from meat eating. Overall, the camps were informative, interesting, entertaining and a great success


Towards Better Living Camp, Australia

1 January 1999, Friday, Wellingborough, UK: Akhand Dhun Utsav.

The Utsav began at 7am, with the reading of Swamishri's blessings and arti. Dhun was sung as senior devotees did the first pradakshina of the Akshar Deri. Breakfast was served to all visitors until 11am, and from thereafter, a hot meal was available to all until 8pm. As people began to arrive, hourly sessions were made so that pradakshina could be done by all. Volunteers were in their places before 6am and served until well after 10pm. Devotees and friends performed pradakshina, coming from as far afield as Southampton and Ashton-u-Lyne. Santos visited in two groups, in the afternoon and in the evening.

© 1999, Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Swaminarayan Aksharpith