Sixty three years ago on the Hindu calendar day of Jeth sud 4 (Tuesday, 21 May 1950),
Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj appointed the 28-year-old Shastri Narayanswarupdas – ‘Pramukh Swami Maharaj’ – as the president (or ‘Pramukh’) of the organisation BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha he had founded in 1907. This day became known as ‘Pramukh Varani Din’ and was commemorated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Mill Park on Sunday, 23 June 2013.
Celebrations began with devotional songs sung by youths extolling the virtues of Pramukh
Swami Maharaj and speeches were made describing the occasion where Shastriji Maharaj formally entrusted the responsibilities of the organisation to Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Videos were then shown of Pramukh Swami Maharaj visiting the actual place in Ahmedabad where the appointment took place and the celebration of Pramukh Varani Din in Sarangpur in his presence a few days earlier.
A fortnight after the Pramukh Varani Din celebrations, the important Hindu festival of Rath Yatra (festival of chariots) was celebrated with great fanfare at the Mandir on Sunday, 14 July. The celebration assembly featured cultural programmes, traditional dances, bhajans, speeches and video presentations. Following the ancient tradition, a beautifully decorated rath (chariot) with the murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan had been prepared. The rath was ceremoniously pulled by hand around the assembly hall by BAPS children singing bhajans.
A truly beautiful ceremony, it had the right blend of religion and festivity.