Acharya Swamishree's 71st manifestation day celebrations at Shree Swaminarayan Temple London

Thursday 4th to Saturday 6th July saw a wonderful three-day festival to celebrate Acharya Swamishree’s 71st manifestation day. The Mahotsav included scripture recitals, samoh raas, unforgettable kirtan performances from Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa’s sants and the amazing darshan of His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree adorned in chandan garments.

The first day of this Mahotsav saw the recital of the Bapashree ni Vato scripture, sponsored collectively by all the disciples with the sole prayer that Acharya Swamishree bestows the divine strength, intellect and ability into each disciple such that they can continue to please Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. In total, the number of individually sponsored recitals reached in excess of 500! The second day of the Mahotsav included the conclusion of the scripture recitals and Acharya Swamishree’s divine ashirwad.

The third and final day began with a special Swagat Yatra in honour of Acharya Swamishree. Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band led Acharya Swamishree into the Temple where young disciples formed a guard of honour for Him. Once Acharya Swamishree reached the Sinhasan, the sponsoring disciples performed Panchamrut Snan (bathing using the five nectars) to the lotus feet of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree. Disciples then performed celebratory dances, and Sants sang affectionate kirtans, to please the Lord on this auspicious occasion. Acharya Swamishree cut a magnificent three-tier birthday cake and offered it to the Lord. All of this was a mere prelude.

Perhaps the most memorable celebration that had taken place in the London Temple’s 31 year history was that of Acharya Swamishree’s 60th manifestation day celebrations. On that occasion eleven years ago, His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree bestowed His divine darshan adorned in chandan garments. Fulfilling the wishes of His disciples once again, Acharya Swamishree delighted everyone by giving darshan adorned in beautifully crafted garments made of chandan.

The finale to the Mahotsav was a samoh raas, but with a difference. Just as the disciples of London experienced eleven years ago, Acharya Swamishree smothered the faces of His sants and disciples with chandan paste during the raas. The soothing chandan cooled the faces of everyone on what was the warmest day of the year so far. As the raas built to a crescendo, the Temple was a sea of yellow faces, swirling around Acharya Swamishree as He took to His feet to further enthuse everyone; each individual indistinguishable from the next, and completely equal in the eyes of the Lord.