On Sunday 29th January, the community at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury celebrated Shakotsav. A magnificent depiction of a rural village, adorned with traditional Indian food, was placed before the Lord, and everyone enjoyed a communal Prasad dinner at the end of Sabha.
Inspired by the lesson of servitude that the Lord taught us through His Shakotsav leela, youngsters from Kingsbury Mandir went into central London that very evening to distribute warm and nutritious meals to the homeless and needy – serving some 40 people in less than half an hour, making a small but important difference them.
Through the Shakotsav festival celebrated by Lord Shree Swaminarayan from Samvat 1878 Maha Sud 7 (1821 AD), in the village of Loya, the Lord taught the importance of performing humble, selfless services. The Lord Himself prepared a delicious aubergine curry and served this to all the Sants and disciples. This festival continued for two and a half months. By the final day, the Lord had used up 360 kg of fresh ghee and 1200 kg of aubergines to make the curries. This festival is still enacted in Mandirs during the winter season to remember the Lord’s teachings of putting others before self.
The evening began with disciples ceremonially bringing in the supreme Lord Shree Swaminarayan in a golden palanquin. The sabha then enjoyed a video of the 2014 Shakotsav that was inspired by Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj in the lead up to the grand opening of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury. On that occasion, Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Complex was briefly converted to a village market – “Kutchbury” rather than Kingsbury. Bapa delighted everyone during those celebrations, by initially visiting the market stalls to collect the ingredients, and then taking to the stage to personally cook the aubergine curry. Such indelible memories were created for everyone who experienced this wonderful darshan.
The youngest students of Swamibapa Gujarati School performed a short play and held a dharmic quiz to convey the importance of the Shakotsav episode during the Lord’s time. Everyone then enjoy Prasad dinner that included the traditional dish of aubergine curry and rotlo.