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Janmashtami Celebration-2002

25 August 2002, Sunday, Atlanta, GA:

On Sunday, August 25, 2002, the foremost festival of the Hindu month of Shravan, Janmashtami was celebrated with joy and enthusiasm at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (BAPS) in Atlanta. More than 2100 fellow Indo-American community members attended the daylong celebrations. In the morning hours, BAPS Medical services collaborated with American Red Cross for a blood donation drive. 104 donors took part in this five hour blood donation drive. A total of 98 pints of blood were collected. American Red Cross volunteers were overwhelmed with the response given by BAPS community satsangis. A spokeswoman for Red Cross said that, “Truly speaking, to collect this amount of blood, it would take 2 bloodmobiles at least 2-3 separate locations. We are grateful to BAPS that they have done this tremendous job by giving us this opportunity today. We look forward to work with BAPS in coming future. Indeed remarkable.”

The actual Janmashtami festival started at 4 pm with traditional dhoon and prarthana from the BAPS balaks. Throughout the evening, devotional kirtans glorifying Shri Krishna Bhagwan and Shri Swaminarayan Bhagwan were sung by the youths of BAPS. Pujya Shantmurti Swami explained to the audience of 2100, the message from Shri Krishna’s life. Shri Krishna had said in Shrimad Gita that “sambhavami yuge yuge”. He vividly presented that the essence of Shrimad Gita is in three yoga: Karma yoga, Jnan Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Shri Krishna’s life was the combination of all the three yoga.Today we can see the similarity of this combination in Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life. His life itself is the message to all. He is the true expounder of the Bhagvat dharma and Bhakti. A balak from the community Sahil V Patel was felicitated for his excellent achievement in tennis. He was ranked 28, in the age group of under 12, by USTA amongst hundreds of tennis playing kids in USA. Pujya Shantmurti Swami gave a special memento to him on behalf of BAPS. Sahil explained the balance of mental and physical stability through tennis in life in his presentation. The whole evening progressed with various segments of presentations by youths. Many leaders from Indian community also attended the festival.

Pujya Amrutnandan Swami gave another presentation on setting up priorities in life. He said that this festival is a constant reminder that we should not forget God. Now in the kalyug, we tend to use God only in calamities. However, we should strive to remember God at all times, in all situations. That is the true message of Janmashtami. The youths then presented a drama called ‘Shantiparva’. This was an episode from the Mahabharat in which the Pandavas seek advice from the death bound Bhisma on how to achieve Shanti. Bhisma in his usual style, lying on the arrow-pierced bed, explained them that Shanti could only be achieved by worshipping Bhagwan and following His message. Everyone enjoyed the message of the drama. In conclusion, the birthday of Shri Krishna was celebrated with joy by the balaks with a dance. Everyone participated in arti and had a traditional mahaprasad thereafter.

Bhawan Swaminarayan on Hindolo (Swing)

Drama Shantiparva

Pujya Amrutnandan Swami delivering speech

18 August 2002, Sunday, Augusta, GA:

On August 18, 2002, the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir of Augusta, Georgia celebrated the Janmashtmi Samiayo with a lot of excitement, in the presence of Pujya Shantmurti Swami and Amrutnandan Swami. The samiayo included dhoon, pratharna, kirtans, and discourses. Approximately 200 people attended the celebration. A murti of Lord Shri Krishna was placed in the main Sabha Hall on stage for everyone’s darshan.

The samiayo began with manglacharan, dhoon, and prathana. Several speeches were given interspersed with many uplifting kirtans. Pujya Shantmurti Swami gave a discourse on Jamnmashtmi, Lord Krishna and Gita. He discussed at length Lord Krishna’s message in the Bhagwad Gita about karma yog, gnan yoga and bhakti yoga, all of which are currently in Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj.How should we really celebrate Janmashtmi? By associating ourselves with a real sant like Pramukh Swami. Lord Krishna mentioned in the Gita that He would incarnate when the moral and ethical values of society decline. A real sant like Pramukh Swami Maharaj takes us from the darkness that encompasses our life to the light of God. Pujya Amrutnandan Swami gave a speech on worldly distractions and how to achieve true happiness. Mr. Frank Spears, Columbia County Commissioner, was the chief guest and spoke to the audience.

31 August 2002, Saturday, Orlando, FL:

Approximately 900 satsangis gathered on August 31, 2002 at the BAPS Orlando mandir to celebrate Janmashtami. The sinhasan and the stage were decorated beautifully. The main program commenced with dhun, partharna and kirtans being sung by the Kishore and Yuvak Mandal. Then, a speech was given on the importance of worshipping God with the same fervor as the choicest devotee, similar to Radha.

Thereafter, a speech on the life of Shri Krishna was presented. The Bal Mandal then presented short plays from the Krishna Leela. The samaiyo ended with Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s audio or video? blessings and chanting of “Nand gher anand bhaiyo…” and the balaks and kishores dancing in rejoice. Aarti was sung to close the samaiyo.


Annakut offered to Murtis'

Devotees in assembly

31 August 2002, Saturday, Miami, FL:

The Janmashtami festival was celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm here at the BAPS Palm Beach Mandir (West Palm Beach - Miami). The celebration consisted of two events: Krishna Janmotsav and Janmashtami Samaiyo Sabha. Krishna Janmotsav was celebrated on August 31, 2002, at the mandir in presence of more than 400 devotees. A special program of Kirtan-Bhakti was arranged to celebrate the janmotsav. At 12 midnight, the Janmotsav aarti was performed. Soon after Yuvak mandal sang "Nand gher anand bhayo...." and "Sona na Bor Zule Nandkishor.." while all devotees took "Laabh" of swinging Lord Krishna in the cradle.

The Samaiyo Sabha was held on 1 September. Murtis of Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj and Shri Radha-Krishna Dev were adorned with beautiful traditional attire and ornaments. A nicely decorated annakut was arranged to mark the occassion. The special attraction of the event was a beautifully crafted model depicting Mathura, Gokul and river Yamuna flowing in the middle with Shri Vasudev holding Lord Krishna in a bucket on his head. Miniature houses, trees, animals, a palace, a "chandarvo" (to indicate night time), a jail and a mandir were made and arranged to mark the occassion. The local Yuvak and Kishore Mandals put in a great effort to make this.

During the samaiyo sabha, a Kirtan Aradhana was performed. Two short speeches on Bhaktiyog as explained by Lord Krishna in Bhagvad Geeta and Shreeji Maharaj's Lila Charitra on Janmashtami Celebrations were given. A short video of Murti Darshan on the Palm Beach Mandir was shown. Bal Mandal and Kishore Mandal also participated in a special program of "Matki Fod". A "Matki" was set outside the mandir at about 20 feet above the ground and Balaks and Kishores formed a pyramid to break the "Matki". About 600 devotees attended the sabha and enjoyed the mahaprasad at the end.

31 August 2002, Saturday, Charlotte, NC:

August 31, 2002, was a special day for the BAPS devotees of North and South Carolina. Six years ago, Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj had answered the humble prayers of the area devotees by performing the murthi pratistha (idol installation) of the Charlotte Mandir. Today, each part of this magnificent temple seemed to echo a story; a saga of devotees’ dedicated intentions, placing service above self. About 150 people participated in mahapuja ceremony in the presence of the southeastern regional saints.

The evening’s program was rich in content and well received by about 850 attendees. As always, melodious kirtans created a divine environment for the celebrations. A speech on the importance of and need for a mandir was presented by one of our regional sants. This noted that the mandir was instrumental in installing faith in God, nurturing and developing human beings, recapitulate our rich heritage and culture, and teach moral values to our young and old alike.

Also, the day marked an important Hindu festival, Janmasthmi, which was also celebrated with great pomp. A speech was given explaining Janmasthmi. It was articulated that Janmasthmi was to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna who had come to this Earth to protect good from evil. The true spirit of Janmashtami is for devotees to implicitly surrender to the Lord', while staunchly observing Dharma. One who becomes 'Brahmarup' (ideal devotee like Arjuna) and offers devotion to Parabrahma (God) will forever remain blissful and attain the highest glory of God. The climax of the evening’s program was a entertaining skit titled “Dharma Sansthapaanarathaaya” that provided the story of Lord Krishna and his victory over Kansa and other evil demons. The evening concluded with an arti and dinner.

Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Gunatitanand Swami

Singing devotional songs

Entertaining skit  Dharma Sansthapaanaaya

Shri RadhaKrishna Dev

Singing devotional songs

Janmashtami celebration

25 August 2002, Sunday, San Jose, CA:

Janmashtami, Lord Krishna’s birthday was celebrated by presenting his life and messages through an amalgamation of melodious kirtans and discourses by sants. Shri Vallabhacharya’s treatise, “Madhurashtakam” was the first in the sequel of musical tribute to Krishna Kanaiya. Pujya Uttamcharan Swami gave a speech themed “Sarvam Dharmam Paritajyam, Maam Ekam Sharanam Vraja” and applied its meaning to today’s modern world. After a kirtan, “Kab re badhegi meri choti”, two balaks gave a mime presentation based on the characters of Dhruv and Prahalad which spellbound the entire audience with their effective acting. Thereafter, Pujya Kaivalyamurti Swami gave an eye-opening presentation filled with statistical analysis on the dangers of the internet and teenage chatting. He also furnished guidelines on using the internet. Before arti, the local Public Relations team presented an update on BAPS earthquake rehabilitation work.

The day before Janmashtami celebrations, on August 24, the annual health fair themed “Preventive Care” was organized at the temple. Over 226 attendees took advantage of this unique event. 26 doctors from various fields, 5 medical technicians, and a number of volunteers participated and helped to make this event successful. People took advantage of standard check-ups such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. The attendees also took advantage of the doctors and dentists by visiting their tables and asking personal questions regarding their welfare. The highlight of the fair was two excellent presentations on balanced vegetarian diet. Many informational flyers related to the health we were also handed out.

7 September 2002, Saturday, Jersey City, NJ:

On September 7, 2002, a grand samaiyo commemorating Janmastami was celebrated with joy and enthusiasm. It was a joint samaiyo of four centers of Northeast: Edison, Jersey City, Clifton and Philly. The main assembly of the samaiyo started at around 4:30 in the afternoon and lasted for almost 3 hours including aarti.

Kishores and balaks started the celebration with the Pratharna, “Man usiki karo Praarthnaa…” followed by the Dhoon, “Ram Krishna Govinda …” Then four members of small happy family: the grandfather, his two grandsons and the friend of their grandsons, took over the sabha sanchalan and did a very good job of MC as drama style throughout the main celebrations. Heart-touching speeches were done by a balak and a kishore on Krishna Bhagwan’s childhood and youth respectively. Three dramas were performed on Vasudev taking Krishna to Gokul, Krishna Bhagwan fighting with Mama Kansa and Krishna Bhagwan giving “Brahma Gyan” to Arjuna. Videos throughout the celebration also helped the audience understand the life of Bhagwan Krishna.

Speeches by sants brought home the message of Lord Krishna and how to apply that ageless message into our life by following the agna by the Pragat Satpurush. The audience really enjoyed the overall program. Samuh aarti and Krishna Janmotsav ceremony was held in the end of the Sabha. Approximately 1200 people enjoyed the samaiyo and prasad.


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