BAPS Celebrates Swaminarayan Jayanti & Ram Navmi in Chino Hills, CA
Los Angeles, 2013
Dilip Butani/ Ramesh
This year, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chino Hills, CA celebrated the 232nd birth anniversary of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, also known as Swaminarayan Jayanti, on April 21,2012. The day is also auspiciously known as Ram Navmi for the celebration of the birth of Shri Ram Bhagwan. This year’s program included the re-enactment of the Yash Gatha, a musical narration of the journey led by Bhagwan Swaminarayan and a depiction of his countless spiritual endeavors.
The youth of BAPS brought to life the story through the singing of the Yash Gatha. With each stanza, a part of the journey was depicted, accompanied by dances, speeches and dramas interspersed throughout the performance.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Through a number of social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have a high esteem for their roots - their rich Hindu culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these activities of character-building. Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically and spiritually pure, and free of addictions.
The story began with portrayals from Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s birth to his childhood, a time when he was known by the name of Ghanshyam. The audience stilled as the first notes began, the world disappearing behind them as the music delved into the life of a young boy, whose journey touched the hearts of thousands.
The intensity of the scenes re-enacted by the youth drew the audience in. The subtle crescendo hidden in the music of the Yash Gatha grew as the story developed to describe the sacrifices made by Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Following the codes and standards shared through ancient Hindu scriptures including the Vedas and Upanishads, Bhagwan Swaminarayan taught others to live by virtues such as compassion and integrity and to share these values with others.
These teachings were further shared through the stories narrated about Shri Ram Bhagwan, who sacrificed everything to be the ideal son while maintaining his dharma, or codes of behavior.
From describing the movement to uplift women to the practice of ahimsa (principle of non-violence) to helping enlighten a generation of people, Bhagwan Swaminarayan helped increase themoral standard of living for many in an age where adharma once prevailed.
The music connected with the members of the audience, bringing them together to commemorate the birth and legacy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Today, the continuation of this journey is seen through His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj who continues to inspire devotees to follow the same moral teachings.
Earlier in the day, a blood drive took place at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Devotees, as well as visitors, took time out to donate blood, collecting over 63 pints of blood. Blood drives will continue throughout the year as BAPS Charities is dedicated to serving the community. BAPS Charities will also be holding its 16th annual walk-a-thon at Veteran’s Park in Chino Hills, helping causes such as the American Heart Association and the Chino Hills Community Foundation. Everyone is welcome to join the walk for a better, healthier community.
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, has inspired millions of people across the world to lead a God-centered, morally pure life. As the present leader of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj travels from village to village, continent to continent, emphasizing the importance of family harmony, community service and spiritual progress. He embodies the essence of Hindu life. His compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity have touched many world religious and national leaders.