In Hinduism, Ashadh sud poonam (the full-moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashadh) is observed as the auspicious day of Gurupoonam. On this day, all Hindus worship and honor their Gurus. Gurupoonam is one of the three main annual festivals in the Swaminarayan Sampraday. His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree, sants, and disciples all take this day to gather and pay respect to our Gurus, Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa.
Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa explains the precise meaning of the Sanskrit word “guru.” Gu means “andhkaar,” which is “darkness.” Ru means “prakaash,” which is “light.” Thus, one who enlightens the ignorant or shines light to those in darkness is called a Guru. Swamibapa says further, “Guru veena gnaan nahi,” which translates to, “Without a Guru, knowledge cannot be attained.” Without a Guru, knowledge about religion and the real meaning of life cannot be achieved. Only Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa can enlighten our souls with true religious knowledge, and by doing so, we can achieve the greatest happiness and endless peace of the supreme Lord. Therefore, He is our true Guru, and it is important to honor Him on this auspicious day.
This year, Gurupoonam fell on Saturday, July 12th, 2014; disciples all across the world celebrated this auspicious occasion within their respective mandals or temples. His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree and sants celebrated the occasion at Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Ocala, Florida, as it coincided with the temple’s fourth Patotsav and Acharya Swamishree’s tour of the state.
The celebration at Shree Swaminarayan Temple Ocala commenced with parayan poojan led by sants and performed by disciples in the tent that had been erected next to the temple as a part of the Patotsav celebrations. Acharya Swamishree and sants then performed the Gurupoojan ceremony to Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa and performed aarti to Him. Disciples were also given the opportunity to perform aarti to our Gurudev. Everyone was then seated, and they listened to Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa’s divine ashirwad about Gurupoonam and our Gurudev Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. Following Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s blessings, disciples adorned Acharya Swamishree in hand-crafted flower vagha, and all disciples were then given the opportunity to perform the Gurupoojan ceremony. The young disciples of Florida then performed devotional dances to please Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree. Acharya Swamishree was then escorted to the temple for sandhya aarti and niyams. After niyams, everyone was served mahaprasad to conclude the celebrations.