On Saturday 4th December, Acharya Swamiji Maharaj, Sants and disciples visited the pilgrimage site in Richmond, to immerse the divine ashes of Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj into the River Thames. This was the last leg of the Asthi Suman Visarjan tour that Acharya Swamiji Maharaj has been leading, during which He has decreed that Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s divine ashes should be ceremonially scattered at the exact places where in 1979, the sacred ashes of Gurudev Swamibapa were scattered.
The ceremony commenced during the evening of Friday 3rd December, during which the entire congregation performed Maha Pooja. Acharya Swamiji Maharaj was led into Purushottam Mahal led by dancers, drummers and dholis – reminiscent of the fanfare and grandeur with which Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj was so often brought into Sabha. Following the Maha Pooja, everyone had the opportunity to offer Aarti to Lord Shree Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa, Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj and Acharya Swamiji Maharaj. Finally, Acharya Swamiji Maharaj performed the panchamrut snan – ceremonial bathing with the five nectars – of Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. The prasad snan water from this ceremony was then distributed to every disciple, for use during tomorrow’s Asthi Suman Visarjan ceremony.
The earlier and forecasted rain cleared by the time Acharya Swamiji Maharaj arrived at Ham - a suburban district in Richmond, south-west London – to reveal a glorious sunny morning. It was here that in August 1979, Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa visited during His UK vicharan; following His departure from this mortal world, disciples residing in the UK scattered His divine ashes here on 6th October that year. Just prior to yesterday’s Maha Pooja, newly found footage of this historic event was shown in Mandir. Immersing Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s divine ashes here further cemented this location as a holy site of pilgrimage for the disciples of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi.
Acharya Swamiji Maharaj presided on a riverboat along with Sants, disciples and Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band, which sailed slowly down river, stopping at various points where hundreds of disciples calmly waited on the bank for the divine darshan of Acharya Swamiji Maharaj immersing Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s divine ashes at those locations. Acharya Swamiji Maharaj released white doves during the ceremony – representing the universal peace message of World Peace Ambassador Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. The ashes were bathed with flowers and the prasad snan water from yesterday’s bathing ceremony as they were immersed into the river.
All the gathered disciples also had the opportunity to participate in this truly historic ceremony. They all were able to ceremonially bathe Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s divine ashes, by immersing the prasad snan water from yesterday’s bathing ceremony into the river. They also placed biodegradable, water soluble boats into the river on which they had written their personal prayers to Bapa – with so much left for so many to say to our Beloved Bapa, this was an opportunity for those sentiments to be expressed by all. All the while during the event Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band played melodies in reminiscence or Bapa, including ‘Sahu na Pyara Swamishree’ and ‘Bhuli Na Re Jasho’.