After a wonderful Bhakti Sangeet night on Thursday, July 29th, 2010, the 9th Patotsav celebrations at Shree Swaminarayan Temple New Jersey continued the evening of Friday, July 30th, 2010. Parayans for Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Granth were held in Swamibapa Hall in the presence of His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree to commence the evening’s events. Afterwards, everyone proceeded to the temple prayer hall for Sandhya Aarti Niyams. Maha prasad was then served to all, and everyone gathered back inside Swamibapa Hall for the rest of the night’s program.
A very young disciple started the night off by singing a dhoon, and other disciples then performed a fifteen-minute comedy skit called “Kon Banega Karorpati?” to please Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree. Following this, a hand-crafted, rotating chariot that disciples had worked tirelessly the night before to build was brought out to the center of the hall, and His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree was seated on top. As the chariot rotated, Acharya Swamishree bestowed His divine darshan to all the disciples below. Young disciples then performed a raas to the kirtan “Avatar Na Avatari Swami” to please the Lord and Acharya Swamishree.
At the conclusion of the raas performance, the entire congregation got up and raas music began to play. Sants and disciples all participated in samuh raas for the remainder of the night. Everyone sang the praises of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and danced joyously around the divine murti of Acharya Swamishree seated on the chariot. The night ended with a sanedo sung by Sant Shiromani Shree Dharmavatsaldasji Swami, who was accompanied by sants and disciples playing the dhol. Acharya Swamishree was very pleased throughout the night, and He blissfully smiled and bestowed His divine darshan from His chariot as His disciples elatedly moved around Him.
Saturday morning, Swamibapa Pipe Band led a procession from the prayer hall parking lot to the Swamibapa Hall parking lot. Acharya Swamishree was seated on top of a decorated chariot, and sants and disciples walked alongside Him. Upon reaching the end of the procession, disciples carried Acharya Swamishree into Swamibapa Hall, and Swamibapa Pipe Band gave Him a guard of honor. Everyone was then seated, and the scripture recital of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Granth continued. During the scripture recital, Acharya Swamishree inaugurated the 2010 blood drive at the temple. The blood drive ran from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, and during this time, 38 pints of blood were donated, a temple record. After the parayans, Acharya Swamishree showered His divine blessings upon everyone who was present.
His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree gave the congregation ashirwad about the importance of seva. He explained that a disciple who understands the greatness of the Lord is able to perform various sevas to please Him. By performing sevas in such a manner, the disciple’s love towards the Lord grows daily. A disciple with strong faith knows that any seva performed under Shree Swaminarayan Gadi reaches the Lord’s lotus feet, and the disciple will attain eternal salvation. By performing sevas with good intentions, the heart becomes pure, and we shouldn’t have anything except Lord Shree Swaminarayan in our heart. One who desires eternal salvation should put all his body, mind, heart, wealth, and family towards performing seva. Eventually, the disciple’s name reaches the rosary beads of Lord Shree Swaminarayan, and the disciple attains eternal salvation. Living life according to the Lord’s will is a true seva.
Following Acharya Swamishree’s divine ashirwad, He was escorted out of the hall to consecrate the afternoon’s prasad, which was then served to everyone. Later in the afternoon, parayans for Abji Bapashree Ni Vaato were held, and everyone was served prasad once again before the evening’s program.
The program was a cultural night, which consisted of several different performances brought by the youth of the temple to please the Lord and Acharya Swamishree. To start off, young disciples performed devotional dances, and a disciple recited a section from the Vachanamrut in Gujarati. Then, disciples performed a religious drama titled “Satya Mev Jatye” After the drama, Acharya Swamishree was escorted out of Swamibapa Hall, and everyone was served ice cream prasad.
Sunday, August 1st, 2010 marked the 9th Patotsav of Shree Swaminarayan Temple New Jersey. Shortly after Mangala Aarti, Acharya Swamishree performed the 9th Patotsav ceremony. Hundreds of disciples who had gathered from all across the United States and all over the world participated in the ceremony as well. After the Patotsav ceremony, with help from the Secaucus Fire Department, Acharya Swamishree performed the flag-raising ceremony, replacing last year’s Shree Swaminarayan Gadi flags on the temple’s sikhars with new ones. Upon reentering the temple, the sants had arranged a grand ankoot to offer to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa, featuring a variety of Indian sweets and a cake. Acharya Swamishree, sants, and disciples then performed aarti to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. Acharya Swamishree cut the cake and offered them to the Lord. Following this, He was adorned in handmade flower vagha and escorted to Swamibapa Hall with the day’s honored guests, many politicians and well-known persons from the North Jersey area. Swamibapa Pipe Band performed a guard of honor and played as Acharya Swamishree and guests walked to the stage.
Once everyone was seated, two of the honored guests, Mayor of the town of Secaucus Michael Gonnelli and New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman gave speeches to the congregation about how pleased they were to receive the divine darshan of Acharya Swamishree and about how much they value the services of Shree Swaminarayan Temple New Jersey to the local community and to the United States. Mayor Gonnelli had even prepared a basket of fresh vegetables from his own backyard garden to offer to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa in the Patotsav ankoot. All of the honored guests were given prasad paags and saals from Acharya Swamishree before He showered His divine ashirwad upon the hundreds of disciples who had gathered for the Patotsav celebration.
Acharya Swamishree reminded the assembly that there is no iota of a difference between the three idols of the Lord: the human idol, the Akshardham idol, and the painting or statue idol. He also reminded disciples about the importance of lifelong devotion towards the Lord. Disciples should have seva inclination and tyaag (ascetic) inclination until the very last breath of their lives. Dharma and bhakti (devotion) provide us with guidance for devotional practices. The practices adopted by disciples should remain within those prescribed. Disciples should never relinquish their devotion unto the Lord in fear of criticism or in times of adversity, and they should learn how to let grudges and hurt feelings go and to forgive people. Keeping grudges inside turns into poison and destroys one’s life. Good intentions and pure heart will help you during times of adversity. There is no problem in the world that pure heart and devotion and faith in the Lord won’t solve. Disciples should always wish for the welfare of others, and not a single bad thought should enter the minds of disciples. It is not important how long you live your life, but how you live it.
Following His divine blessings, Acharya Swamishree inaugurated the new kirtan CD “Nirkhya Re Ghanshyam” He and sants were then escorted out of Swamibapa Hall, and prasad was served to all. This concluded the 9th Patotsav celebration of Shree Swaminarayan Temple New Jersey. Disciples are already anticipating the auspicious 10th Patotsav celebration for next year.