PM Modi launches centennial celebrations in India for BAPS spiritual leader

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the centennial celebration for BAPS spiritual leader Pramukh Swami Maharaj, in Ahmedabad Dec. 14, 2022. Photo: courtesy BAPS.

The Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centennial Celebration was inaugurated on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, in Ahmedabad by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (B.A.P.S.).

The opening marked the public dedication of the month-long festival spread over 600 acres that includes various attractions and programs that are free to all visitors, a press release from BAPS said.

The event began with chanting of Vedic mantras and puja from the Sant Dwar, the majestic 380-foot-wide entrance gate honoring the great sages and saints of India. Governor of Gujarat Acharya Devvrat, Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendra Patel, and senior swamis of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha also participated in the ceremony.

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Upon entering the festival grounds, Mahant Swami Maharaj and the Prime Minister were greeted with a colorful welcome dance by hundreds of BAPS children and youths. The Prime Minister paid  tribute by placing flowers before the 30-foot sculpted image of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Collage of photos from the inauguration event Dec. 14, 2022, in Ahmedabad presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for centennial celebrations of BAPS spiritual leader Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Photo: Twitter @narendramodi

The Prime Minister toured the “glow garden” where there were artistic renditions of moral stories and inspiring values reflected Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s efforts. There was also the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav display, celebrating 75 years of India’s independence through a tribute to Indian heroes and inspirational figures.

The PM and the entourage saw the 67-foot-tall replica of New Delhi’s Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir, went around the temple and the deities, offered flowers and prayed.

At the Bal Nagari, the children’s cultural wonderland, Modi was greeted by the BAPS children who created and produced the shows and exhibits.

The Prime Minister viewed the three innovative musical shows in the Nagari. The ‘Sea of Suvarna’ is the story of “Swarna the Goldfish,” performed by 270 BAPS girls, emphasizing the importance of both hard work and prayers for success. The ‘Village of Buzo’ is the emotional journey of a tribal boy and the sacrifice of his parents, highlighting the value of respecting parents. Finally, the ‘Jungle of Sheru’ is about a young lion journey to find inner strength and identity.

Tens of thousands of devotees greeted the PM and others on stage, while millions watched live around the world, the press release said.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak MP, shared a personal video message of tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj and his teachings.

On this occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “I want to congratulate Mahant Swami Maharaj for inspiring this magnificent Nagar and the swamis for conceptualizing and creating it. It is not only impressive; it will be a source of inspiration for generations to come. This festival is great not just because of its scale and beauty but because of the experience of divinity and grand vision behind it, where everyone can learn about our heritage, history, faith and values.”

“Pramukh Swami Maharaj taught me that the greatest goal in life is to serve others, and he inspired me to serve till my last breath.”

The colorful evening concluded with a maha-arti. Ishwarcharandas Swami, international convenor of BAPS, extended an invitation to everyone to visit ‘Pramukh Swami Maharaj Nagar’ and enjoy the free inspiring presentations, exhibitions and attractions.

The centennial celebration is scheduled to go on till Jan. 15, 2023.

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