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Festivals marking the divine birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shri Rama were celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London over the weekend of 31 March and 1 April 2012.
The celebrations began on the evening of Saturday 31 March with a two-day production, culminating on the evening of Sunday 1 April 2012. Inspiring episodes from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan were dramatised depicting the faith and steadfastness of sadhus and devotees from his time. Children, youths and senior devotees all contributed to an enlightening set of performances.
Interspersed with these sketches were explanations by sadhus of the positive transformation that Bhagwan Swaminarayan had inspired in the lives of so many. A collection of devotional songs extolling the divine virtues of Bhagwan Swaminarayan were also eloquently sung before Yogvivek Swami, Head Sadhu of the Mandir, spoke of the importance of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life and work in our lives today.
On Sunday 1 April 2012 – the actual day of the births according to the Hindu calendar – a traditional annakut (grand variety of food) was offered the deities to mark the auspicious occasion. At 12 noon, the sadhus performed a special arti to commemorate the birth of Shri Rama.
Worshippers were able to rock the cradle of Shri Rama and were given the opportunity of offering abhishek to the sacred image of Shri Nilkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan) in the evening.
A special programme of devotional songs was organised inside the Haveli assembly hall from 5pm as part of the festivities. Sadhus sang a collection of bhajans describing the divine characteristics of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Shri Rama before the second day of the production continued at 8pm.
The grand assembly culminated with the celebrations of the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan at precisely 10:10pm.
The festivals were also celebrated at all BAPS mandirs and centres around the UK as well as in Europe.
In addition, a special assembly of festivities by the Women’s Forum was held in London on Saturday 7 April 2012. A series of sketches illustrated the positive transformation of people’s lives that took place with the blessings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in his time. The inspiring and joyous celebrations were enjoyed by young and old.