History of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kheda
Mahotsav Day 1 Mahotsav Day 2 Mahotsav Day 3
Mahotsav Day 1
The first day of the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kheda Rajat Mahotsav began with Acharya Swamishree Maharaj performing Mangla Aarti at the Mandir. He and the sants then gathered in Kheda where Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band London and HH Swamibapa Pipe Band Nairobi awaited His arrival.
Hundreds of disciples gathered on a crisp, cool morning in the centre of Kheda, eagerly awaiting the Darshan of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. He arrived promptly at 8am and presided on a golden chariot, which was drawn to the Sabha Mandap by His beloved sants. The procession, led by both Pipe Bands, soon arrived at the grounds of the HND Parekh High School where the festival marquee was situated. Once Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s chariot arrived at the heart of the Sabha Mandap, the young disciples of Varodara performed a welcoming dance to receive Acharya Swamishree Maharaj to the Sinhasan.
Shastri Shree Prashantswaroop Swami commenced the recital of the sacred scripture, Shree Swaminarayan Gadi. Acharya Swamishree Maharaj blessed the congregation with His divine blessings, in which the history of Kheda village, and its significance and sacredness was narrated. He also elaborated on the great fortune for all humanity, that manifested upon the Earth in the form of Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa.
The chief guest of the morning was Shri K K Nirala (IAS), Collector, Kheda-Nadiad – an eminent civil servant in the region. Several sadhus from the nearby Santram Mandir came for Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s darshan. They were commended for their charitable work and honoured by Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan. During this first day of the festival, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj inaugurated a number of new publications, including scriptures, audio CDs and video DVDs.
Bhakti Sangeet Performances Evening
The Mahotsav’s only evening events was a Kirtan Bhakti concert performed by the renowned superstar of Gujarat, Shri Vikram Thakor, accompanied by Shri Bhikudan Gadvi . Guest of honour tonight was global singing sensation, Jeffrey Iqbal - who made history by becoming the first American born to sing for a Bollywood Film. Having performed at a number of the Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan events, Jeffrey has developed a deep affection for Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. Acharya Swamishree Maharaj delighted the 5,000 plus rapturous crowd – leaving standing room only outside of the Sabha Mandap – by taking to the stage with Jeffrey.
Mahotsav Day 2
After performing Mangla Aarti at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kheda, the second day of the Rajat Mahotsav began with Acharya Swamishree Maharaj and Sants gathering in the town centre. The three pipe bands of the Sansthan - Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band London, HH Swamibapa Pipe Band Nairobi and Swamishree Swamibapa Music Band Maninagar – had formed a guard of honour for Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s car to drive through towards His chariot.
Acharya Swamishree Maharaj presided on His chariot, which was then drawn towards the Sabha Mandap by the sponsors of the day, led by the pipe bands and followed by the hundreds of disciples that had gathered there since early morning.
Sadguru Shastri Shree Jitendriyapriya Swami then concluded the recital of the Shree Swaminarayan Gadi scripture before Acharya Swamishree Maharaj welcomed and blessed a range of guests who are all engaged in disaster relief efforts.
Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan has for many years supported relief efforts during times of natural disasters. More recently the Sansthan has joined forces with partner organisations from other countries in the region to form a strong coalition with greater relief-delivering impact – operating under the auspices of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which is an economic and geopolitical organisation of eight countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and more recently joined, Afghanistan). Today, representatives from those international organisations gathered to be honoured by Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. They included:
Mrs Karma Yangdon, Bhutan.
Mr Kishorkumar Bhattarai, Nepal
Mr Damitha Chanaka, Sri Lanka
Mr Atul Rahman, Bangladesh
Shri Hitesh Patel, Co-ordinator of the program and senior volunteer of Shree Muktajeevan Disaster Management and Rescue Training Academy – representing India.
The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shrimati Anandiben Patel had sent a letter of congratulations for this event, in which she stated that the work that has not been possible by the Gujarat Governement is being performed by Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan through the inspiration of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.
This truly unique Disaster Management and Rescue Training Academy will spend the next 3 days in Bhuj, where a session of intense training will be held in the grounds of Shree Muktajeevan Mahila Arts, Commerce and BCA College.
A special website was launched in the presence of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. The ‘North America Convention 2015’ website will promote this important inaugural event that will gather thousands of disciples of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi spread across North America amongst its eleven mandals (five principal Mandirs, five Hari Mandirs).
Throughout the proceedings of this morning’s assembly, Sants and disciples gave blood donations at the camp set-up in the adjoining marquee. The blood will be donated to poor children who are suffering from Thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder.
Acharya Swamishree Maharaj then showered His divine blessings on all, during which some of Gurudev Swamibapa’s memorable and highly inspirational childhood episodes were narrated. Through these, we are able to realise the purpose of Swamibapa’s manifestation upon this Earth, and His true glory and identity.
Sants from the Haridham Sokhda Organisation came to the assembly with greetings from Shree Hariprasadji Swamishree. His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree Maharaj blessed each Sant and gave Prasad.
At 4pm, thousands of disciples and onlookers gathered at the start point of the Nagaryatra. A number of music bands, including the pipe bands of the Sansthan, assembled around the four elephants that would lead the procession, as everyone eagerly awaited the arrival of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.
As the bands warmed up and filled the air with melodies, a drone helicopter showered flowers onto the crowd to fill the air with fragrance. Acharya Swamishree Maharaj soon arrived and presided on His magnificent elephant. The sponsors of the day performed poojan as the pipe bands – Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band London, HH Swamibapa Pipe Band Nairobi and Swamishree Swamibapa Music Band Maninagar – saluted Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.
The crowds continued to gather and by the time the procession commenced, there was barely room to walk – such were the numbers. Nevertheless, the entire procession went off without incident, injury or any disquiet – this was indeed a parade to spread the values of the Lord: peace, tolerance, brotherhood and unity. Throughout the entire Nagaryatra, Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree Maharaj gave their divine darshan, presiding on their regal elephant-born carriages, to the additional thousands of people lining the streets, shops and markets of Kheda – crowds were typically six or seven deep. The largest numbers were at the midway point of the parade, at Shree Muktajeevan Pravesh Dwar – a magnificent and grand gateway to the town of Kheda, erected by Acharya Swamishree Maharaj in honour of Gurudev Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa. Such a spectacle has never been seen before in this humble town.
The Nagaryatra concluded just before 7pm as Acharya Swamishree Maharaj arrived into the Sabha Mandap, which was full to capacity with disciples enthusiastic to welcome Him back.
Mahotsav Day 3
The final day of Swamibapa Pragatyadham - Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kheda Silver Jubilee festival (Wednesday 25th February 2015) began with Acharya Swamishree Maharaj and sants performing the shodashopchaar poojan of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa in the Mandir. During the poojan, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj showered the Murtis of Lord Swaminarayan – Shree Ghanshyam Maharaj, Jeevanpran Shree Abji Bapashree and Gurudev Jeevanpran Swamibapa with gold flower petals. Throughout the poojan rituals, the entire mandir hall and forecourt was filled with Sants and disciples, who were eager to catch a glimpse of this divine darshan.
A magnificent annakut was arranged before the Lord, comprising of numerous foods and sweets lovingly prepared by Sants and disciples. This annakut represented the love and devotion of all the disciples of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan. Accepting the prayers of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, the Lord mercifully dined on all the foods and bestowed blessings to everyone. Firstly Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, and then all the Sants and disciples were given the opportunity to perform aarti to the supreme Lord on this very special day.
After performing the poojan, everyone went to the assembly marque at the HND Parekh High School grounds where Acharya Swamishree Maharaj blessed the congregation with His divine ashirwad. Acharya Swamishree Maharaj blessed the Sants and disciples who had devoted performed various tasks in preparation for this festival, and through the 3 days of the highly memorable occasion. All the different organisations and businesses from Kheda and the surrounding regions who had offered services were mentioned. Acharya Swamishree Maharaj also announced a major anniversary that will take place in late September 2016 – the silver jubilee of Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Smruti Mandir.
After the divine blessings, all the Sants who have remained in Kheda Mandir to serve the Lord presented Acharya Swamishree Maharaj with a 25 foot long garland of fragrant red roses. In recognition of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s 36th year as sovereign of the supreme Lord Shree Swaminarayan’s divine throne, Shree Swaminarayan Gadi, disciples had prepared a garland made from 36 different kinds of grains, which had been lovingly and skilfully tied together. Sants and leading disciples presented this garland to Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.
Throughout the festival, thousands of disciples and people from the entire Kheda region had flocked for the divine darshan of the Lord and to gain the blessings of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. It is estimated that in any single day, over 30,000 meals were provided – this was given to anyone who came, regardless of who they were, or what their creed or background was.
The sacred village of Kheda had become a site of pilgrimage due to Jeevanpran Swamibapa manifesting there. For the disciples of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, it is just as special as the holy village of Chhapaiya in Northern India where Shree Ghanshyam Maharaj manifested. Having demonstrated their spiritual love and devotion towards Gurudev Swamibapa, and being given unforgettable memories of the joyous festival, the Sants and disciples returned to their homes during the late afternoon.