Commencement of Shakotsav Festival
In Samvat 1877, Kartik Vad 10, during an assembly in Loya, Lord Shree Swaminarayan said “My dear santo! You prepare lavish meals for me, but now I want to prepare shak and serve you all. I will prepare such delicious shak that you will remember forever.”
The Lord ordered for aubergine, ghee, salt, spices, sugar, chillies and prepared a delicious aubergine curry. Then He Himself served the food to the sants and disciples.
This marked the beginning of Shakotsav.
As the news of this divine shakotsav spread to the neighbouring regions, devotees from different regions gathered in Loya for the divine darshan of this grand shakotsav festival. Devotees humbly offered to sponsor for this event and Lord Shree Swaminarayan accepted their offerings. This festival continued for two and a half months. On the final day, Lord Swaminarayan prepared aubergine curry with 360kgs of fresh ghee and 1200kgs of aubergines.
He had asked Nityanand Swami and the other sants to make sweet ladoos, so Nityanand Swami served those. However, the Lord had instilled a divine, delicious taste into the aubergine curry, and consequently, everyone asked for more and more of it, and refused to take any of the ladoos. In this manner, a grand Shakotsav festival was held in the village of Loya.
Lord Shree Swaminarayan likes those who perform humble services to the society. To demonstrate its importance, Lord Himself has served the sick, poor, elderly, handicapped people in the society.
During the shakotsav festival The Lord Himself prepared and served aubergine curry to all who came to celebrate this festival in Loya. His clothings had yellow stains from turmeric powder and other spices, but He did not care about it. His sole purpose was to serve the needy.
Shakotsav Festival in Nairobi Temple
A grand shakotsav festival was held on 27 th January 2012 at Swamibapa Temple, Parklands. The festival was graced by the presence of The Acharya of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, Maninagar, HDH Shree Purushottampriyadasji Swami Maharaj.
Preparation of the event had begun a week earlier. A grand picturesque stage was to be erected for the festival. Devotees worked tirelessly during the day and night to have the stage ready for the D-Day. Ghee, spices and aubergines had been purchased in large quantities to serve thousands of disciples who were anticipated to come for this grande festival.
Acharya Swamishree, sant mandal and devotees had started baking millet and maize chapattis in the late afternoon hours. A lavish ankoot thaar was served on banana leaves and placed at the lotus feet of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. Acharya Swamishree performed ankoot aarti and was led to the stage by utsav mandal dressed in traditional white caps.
A cart full of fruits and vegetables awaited Acharya Swamishree at one of the entrance gate to take Him to the stage where the festival was to be celebrated. Devotees welcomed His Holiness with a unique shakotsav dance that involved large cooking utensils and pots full of ladoos.Young devotees performed dances and welcomed His Divine Holiness to a giant stage where He Himself prepared aubergine curry and millet chapattis. A Giant TV screen was erected in the parking area so that everyone could watch all the action being performed on the stage. Devotees had decorated the place with colourful lightings and flags.
The entire congregation performed aarti of peace and unity as Acharya Swamishree took His seat on a traditional bed at the centre stage. One of the sant gave a brief history of the Shakotsav festival that Lord Swaminarayan performed in the village of Loya, India. This was followed by Acharya Swamishree's divine ashirvad. At the conclusion of the celebrations a lavish chapatti meal and aubergine curry was served to thousand of devotees who had come from far and wide ( Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Nyeri, Arusha, Kampala ) to celebrate this rare festival.
This grand festival was broadcast live over the internet to enable disciples from all over the world to experience the divinity of this special festival.