Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav
On the fourth and final day of the Mahotsav, July 31st, 2011, hundreds of disciples from all over the world had gathered inside the temple early in the morning. His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree concluded the Yagna ceremony and then performed the long-awaited idol installation ceremony (Praan Pratishtha ceremony). One by one, Acharya Swamishree installed the murtis of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa in their new home. Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, Acharya Swamishree, sants, and disciples then prayed to the Lord to manifest in pratima-roop (idol form) in Streamwood, Illinois from Akshardham. The Lord accepted their prayers, and from that moment on, Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa bestows His divine darshan and accepts the prayers of those who come to the Chicago temple just as He does at His divine abode in Akshardham. Upon completion of the ceremony, a grand annkoot was offered to the Lord. Acharya Swamishree and sants offered the first aarti to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa, and disciples took turns afterwards.
The congregation then proceeded outside for the flag-raising ceremony. Acharya Swamishree, sants, and disciples mounted the temple's roof via crane and placed flags of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan on top of each of the sikhars. These flags will always wave, being changed each Patotsav (temple anniversary), to mark the home of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa in the state of Illinois.
Swamibapa Pipe Band then led the last swagat yatra of the Mahotsav to the sabha mandap. Acharya Swamishree was once again seated on His grand chariot, giving His divine darshan to all the disciples. After reaching the sabha mandap and sitting down on His gadi, Acharya Swamishree began to shower His divine blessings almost immediately.
Acharya Swamishree preached to the congregation about performing service and devotion to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa wholeheartedly and without any anger or deceit. Our Supreme Lord Shree Swaminarayan has accepted the humble requests of many disciples and has arrived at the Chicago temple from Akshardham. The Lord is extremely happy with all the disciples from all over the world for the various deeds they have performed for the Lord during the Mahotsav. This constitutes a form of devotion. Although at present, the disciples may not see any benefit from performing such deeds, they have faith in the words of the Satpurush, and they know that ultimately the Lord will become pleased with them and eventually take them to Akshardham. Acharya Swamishree warned the congregation about pride; all of us should perform services to please the Lord but never for name or for pride. We should all perform services like the Gopis do to Lord Krishna. True disciples are like a pot of gold, and to be a true disciple, one must have faith and trust in the Lord. He is the doer and cause of everything, and everything happens by His will.
After Acharya Swamishree concluded His ashirwad, several sants and disciples made remarks about the temple and Mahotsav preparations and celebrations. By the divine grace of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa, everything had come together for a fantastic celebration in the end. Acharya Swamishree then presented saals to the mandal of sants who had been residing in Chicago for the past few months. Their infinite love for the Lord and extreme hard work had been a key component in the temple's completion. Acharya Swamishree also presented saals to the mandal of sants who had been touring the United States for the past few months. Because of their, Acharya Swamishree, and Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa's divine efforts, Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan USA has grown to be as large as it is today.
Then, leading disciples from the various mandals around the globe (USA, UK, Kenya, etc.) came together and adorned Acharya Swamishree in a beautiful garland made of pistachios. Acharya Swamishree stood up on His gadi and bestowed His divine darshan upon the entire congregation. The kirtan "Swamibapa Praanthi Pyaara" then began to play in the background, and Acharya Swamishree began to dance immediately whilst standing on His gadi. Sants and disciples crowded around the gadi to cheer Him on and dance along. Sants then circled around the gadi and lifted it off the ground with Acharya Swamishree still standing. The crowd was in uproar. Sants spun the gadi around while Acharya Swamishree continued to dance. The atmosphere was absolutely electric. The sants carried Acharya Swamishree, still on His gadi, off the stage and all the way back to the temple, singing praises of the Lord all the while. It was a fantastic finale to the Mahotsav. Everyone's happiness was evident in their glittering eyes and gigantic smiles. No one will ever forget this Mahotsav.
Everyone was then served maha-prasad, and this concluded the four-day Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav of Shree Swaminarayan Temple and Cultural Center Chicago. Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa will forever bestow His divine darshan and grant salvation to all those who visit His abode in Streamwood, Illinois.