The final day of the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Chesapeake, Virginia Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav, the day for which everyone had anxiously been awaiting, Sunday, July 21st, 2019, had finally arrived. All of the Mahotsav preparations over the past year, all of the hard work and seva contributed by all of the sants and disciples, and His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree and sants’ tireless efforts would come to fruition on this day. On this day, Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Jeevanpran Shree Abji Bapashree, and Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa would accept everyone’s humble prayers and officially manifest at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Chesapeake and make it their newest eternal abode on this earth.
Of even further delight, the idols of Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Jeevanpran Shree Abji Bapashree, and Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa would each be weighed against 185 kilograms of pure silver prior to being ceremoniously installed in their grand sinhasan for the first time in the history of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan. Acharya Swamishree has shown immense mercy upon the disciples of North America, having performed several suvarna (gold) tulas, a platinum tula, as well as a diamond tula at various Mahotsavs over the past two decades. This silver tula would be yet another historic and most blessed event.
In the early morning, Acharya Swamishree performed mangala aarti. The large weighing scale (tula) had already been set up and adorned in various types of flowers. At approximately 8 AM, Acharya Swamishree, sants, and hundreds of disciples from all over the world gathered inside the Mandir for the commencement of the silver tula ceremony. The atmosphere was eerily quiet, as everyone anxiously waited, but the excitement was buzzing in the air. Acharya Swamishree installed the murtis of Shree Ganpatiji and Shree Hanumanji before proceeding to the tula area.
The curtains of the sinhasan had been drawn closed. Sants went inside, brought out the divine idol of Lord Shree Swaminarayan, and gently rested Him on one side of the scale. Then, one by one, Acharya Swamishree and sants started to individually place pure silver ingots, each weighing one kilogram each, onto the other side of the scale. The ingots were customized for the tula; an engraving of Lord Shree Swaminarayan’s divine murti was on each and every ingot. Everyone held their breath as the ingots piled one on top of the other, eagerly waiting for the moment when their weight would match, and then exceed, the weight of the Lord’s idol. Upbeat kirtans were playing in the background, and Acharya Swamishree was bestowing His divine darshan while displaying the ingots for the audience to behold. Slowly, the scales shifted, the physical weight of Lord Shree Swaminarayan’s murti had been surpassed by the 185 kilogram weight of the silver, the murti ascended, and cries of joy erupted from the congregation. Sants triumphantly bellowed Lord Shree Swaminarayan’s chhadi, and the entire congregation joined in proclaiming the ‘jay.’ The music became louder. Acharya Swamishree was lovingly gazing at the Lord’s murti, as if everything else stood still; He and the Lord were connected, and only they must know what transpired between them, but it was a beautiful, divine sight for all of their sants and disciples to behold. Acharya Swamishree then spun the tula around for all to have the divine darshan of the Lord ascended by the weight of silver. Everyone took this most divine, illustrious darshan into their hearts. The murti of Lord Shree Swaminarayan was then placed back inside the sinhasan.
In the same manner as Lord Shree Swaminarayan, the divine idol of Jeevanpran Shree Abji Bapashree, followed by the divine idol of Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa were also each ceremoniously weighed on the tula. Each time, as the divine murti ascended, cheers of joy would erupt from the congregation, and everyone would triumphantly proclaim Jeevanpran Bapashree and Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s chhadi and ‘jay.’ Acharya Swamishree was united with these murtis as well, and he would joyfully play with them as they bestowed their divine darshan from the tula.
This was not the end of the tula ceremony; to everyone’s delight, Acharya Swamishree Himself then sat below His beloved Gurudev Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa on the Tula and bestowed His divine darshan to all. Everyone cheered as they witnessed such divine, miraculous darshan of Acharya Swamishree. Sants and disciples then had the opportunity to perform Tula aarti on this most spectacular occasion.
Following the tula ceremony, His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree concluded the Vedic 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 Chesapeake, Virginia from Akshardham. The Lord accepted their prayers, and from that moment on, Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa bestows His divine darshan and accepts the prayers of all those who come to the Chesapeake temple just as He does at His divine abode in Akshardham. Cheers and applause echoed from the crowd as Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa announced the Lord’s arrival to the sinhasan. Acharya Swamishree performed the first-ever aarti to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa in the sinhasan.
Sants and disciples then quickly assembled a grand annakut to offer to the Lord for the first time in the temple. The annakut consisted of various Indian sweets and snacks prepared by sants and disciples. Acharya Swamishree and sants offered the first annakut aarti to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. Thereafter, Acharya Swamishree sat upon His gadi and bestowed His divine blessings upon the entire congregation and sants and disciples all throughout the world on this occasion. Highlights from His divine blessings are below:
Right before Acharya Swamishree had completed showering His divine blessings, He became overcome with joy and started singing the kirtan “Leela Lher Thaay Re Bapa Jya Padhaarta.” Partway through singing, He stood up on His gadi to dance, and He beckoned all of His sants and disciples to stand up, sing, and dance along with Him. The atmosphere was electrifying as everyone sang and danced along to the lyrics of the kirtan! Upon completing the kirtan, to everyone’s surprise and further joy, ‘timli’ began to play, and Acharya Swamishree, sants, and disciples sang and danced in jubilation to proclaim the arrival of the Lord in Virginia once more! Acharya Swamishree, laughing and smiling with His sants and disciples, then asked them all to be seated once again, and he then concluded His divine blessings. What divine leela from the Acharya of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi, our beloved Acharya Swamishree, our ‘Bapa’ (father), through whom Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Jeevanpran Shree Abji Bapashree, and Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa themselves speak, act, and perform divine miracles!
After Acharya Swamishree’s blessings, all disciples then had the opportunity to perform aarti to Lord Shree Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. Those who had sponsored silver ingots received prasad coins and ingots from Acharya Swamishree after performing aarti.
Afterwards, several sants and disciples of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Virginia made remarks about the temple and Mahotsav preparations and celebrations. They thanked everyone, all the sants and disciples from North America and the world, for their hard work and contributions. By the divine grace of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa, everything had come together for a fantastic celebration in the end.
Acharya Swamishree was then escorted to the exterior of the Mandir to perform the flag-raising ceremony. Acharya Swamishree raised the very first flag of Shree Swaminarayan Temple Delaware. This flag will be changed each Patotsav (temple anniversary), and it will permanently mark the home of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa in the state of Virginia. Acharya Swamishree and disciples performed aarti to conclude the ceremony, and Acharya Swamishree was escorted back into the temple, where He and sants took their afternoon meal.
Immediately afterwards, all in attendance were served delicious mahaprasad in the tent adjacent to the temple, and this concluded the three-day Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir – Chesapeake, Virginia, and the Silver Tula of Lord Shree Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. Because of the Acharya Swamishree and Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa's divine efforts, there is yet another home for Lord Shree Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa equivalent to Akshardham in North America. Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa will forever bestow His divine darshan and grant salvation to all those who visit His abode in Chesapeake, Virginia.
The state of Virginia is known for many things, including being the first colony in America, the homeland of historic figures such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and an epicenter for the government of the United States. It will now be known as an eternal home for Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa.
This Mahotsav was one that no one will ever forget. With Acharya Swamishree’s love and grace and Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa’s every-flowing mercy, the Virginia Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav and Silver Tula of Lord Shree Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa were an immense success. Shree Swaminarayan Siddhant Sajivan Mandal, Virginia. and the members of Shree Swaminarayan Mandir – Chesapeake, Virginia, are extremely thankful to the sants and disciples from all around the world who travelled from far and near and contributed their seva to make the Mahotsav a success. Above all, the mandal is extremely thankful to Acharya Swamishree for His blessings, guidance, and inspiration throughout the planning and execution stages of the Mahotsav. Nothing would have been possible without everyone’s collective and collaborative efforts and the Lord’s divine grace. The many fond memories from this Mahotsav and the Lord’s divine murti have danced into and have been engrained in our hearts forever. Jay Shree Swaminarayan.