In Hinduism, Ashadh sud poonam (the full-moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashadh) is observed as the auspicious day of Gurupoornima. On this day, all Hindus worship and honor their Gurus. Gurupoornima 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, Gurupoornima fell on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012; however, disciples all over the United States celebrated this very auspicious occasion whenever Acharya Swamishree toured their regions. Disciples in Florida celebrated Gurupoornima along with their temple’s second Patotsav ceremony. Disciples in Virginia celebrated the occasion with a cruise in Norfolk, Virginia. Disciples in Delaware celebrated Gurupoornima at their temple in Bear, Delaware. Finally, disciples at Shree Swaminarayan Temple New Jersey celebrated the occasion as well in the temple prayer hall.
The celebration at Shree Swaminarayan Temple New Jersey commenced with a small procession led by Swamibapa Pipe Band from the Swamibapa Hall lobby to the temple prayer hall. Acharya Swamishree and sants carried Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, who was seated on a golden palanquin, through the procession. Disciples followed them with abundant offerings for the Lord. Upon arriving inside the prayer hall, Acharya Swamishree and sants performed the Gurupoojan ceremony to Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa and gave Him the offerings brought in by disciples. Acharya Swamishree offered celebration cake to Shree Harikrushna Maharaj and Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, and He and the event sponsors then performed panchamrut snaan to Shree Harikrushna Maharaj. Everyone was then seated, and they listened to Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa’s divine ashirwad about Gurupoornima and our Gurudev Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. Acharya Swamishree then showered His divine ashirwad upon the congregation.
Following Acharya Swamishree’s divine blessings, all disciples were then given the opportunity to perform the Gurupoojan ceremony. To conclude the celebration, everyone performed aarti to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and then had maha-prasad.