The Platinum Tula
Ladies' Competition Images
Award Ceremony Images
From Sunday, July 29th, 2012, through Friday, August 3rd, 2012, disciples of all ages from across all eight mandals of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan in North America competed in the inaugural Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan (SGS) Talent 2012 at Shree Swaminarayan Temple New Jersey. SGS Talent 2012 was an event designed to allow all the disciples of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan from across the globe showcase their devotional talents in a friendly competition to please Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Jeevanpran Shree Abji Bapashree, Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, and His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree.
Disciples in the youth (under age 16), young adult (ages 16 to 30), and adult (ages 31 and over) age groups competed against each other in four competition categories: bhakti soor (devotional singing), bhakti nrutya (devotional dancing), musical instruments, and dharma gnan (religious knowledge). They were judged by renowned singers, dancers, and musicians from the local area that have performed at prestigious academies and events all across the globe. Some were even singers and musicians for top Bollywood composers. The dharma gnan judges were our very own incredibly knowledgeable sants and disciples of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan.
For the past few months, disciples on the SGS Talent 2012 committee were extremely busy making all the preparations for the event, including organizing registrations, putting up decorations, making t-shirts for all of the participants, contacting judges, ordering medals, and much more. Their hard work and devotion finally paid off when the competitions commenced the evening of Sunday, July 29th after the Ekadashi utsav.
After having mahaprasad, dozens of disciples in the male and female young adult and adult age groups completed registration and assembled in Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Community Hall for the first round of the dharma gnan competition. They all donned their red SGS Talent t-shirts and took a fifty-question written religious exam based off of the first four Sanskar Dipika exams, the history and establishment of Maninagar Mandir, and the history of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan in North America. Acharya Swamishree entered the hall in the middle of the exam to give the disciples taking the exam His divine darshan. He also sat down to review the exam content Himself. Everyone was very pleased to have His divine darshan. The top three scorers on the exam in the male and female young adult and adult age groups all progressed to the second and final round of the competition. They were asked to prepare speeches on random religious topics (such as the meaning of the first slok in the Shikshapatri, Shree Vypakanand Swami’s faith in the religion, the establishment of the Satsang Mahasabha, and the explanation of the Jay Sadguru aarti) to give later in the week.
Monday evening, after Sandhya aarti niyams and mahaprasad, disciples in the male young adult and adult categories competed against each other in the bhakti soor semi-finals. Acharya Swamishree surprised all the disciples yet again by showing up in the middle of the program to give everyone His divine darshan. The top three scorers from both age groups advanced to the finals that took place on Friday.
Similarly, on Tuesday evening, female adults competed in the bhakti soor competition, singing a variety of delightful kirtans that expressed the praises of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. Afterwards, the musical instrument competition commenced. Members of Swamibapa Pipe Band competed in the bagpipes semi-finals. The top three scorers advanced to the final round that took place on Thursday. Acharya Swamishree gave His divine darshan throughout the bagpipes semi-finals as well.
Wednesday evening was the first-ever ladies’ night at Shree Swaminarayan Temple New Jersey. Female youth and young adults competed against each other in bhakti soor. Female youth then competed in their dharma gnan competition, where they were asked to describe what was happening in a random picture taken from the Shree Swaminarayan Gadi and Visualization of the Supreme scriptures. All of the female young adult and adult dharma gnan finalists also gave their speeches. Afterwards, female disciples of all ages performed devotional dances for the bhakti nrutya solo, duet, and group competitions. It was a wonderful evening enjoyed by all the women present.
Young female disciples competed in the tabla and flute musical instrument competitions on Thursday evening. Acharya Swamishree and sants then entered Swamibapa Hall, and the first-place winners of the female bhakti soor and musical instrument competitions were given a chance to display their talents to Acharya Swamishree. Young male disciples then showcased their talents in tabla, American percussion, keyboard, saxophone, and bagpipes for the musical instruments competition.
Friday evening was the final night of competitions. The finalists from the male young adult and adult bhakti soor competitions performed in front of Acharya Swamishree for first, second, and third place. Male youth then competed in their bhakti soor and dharma gnan competitions. Male disciples from Chicago also competed in the bhakti soor group competition, and a very young disciple from Canada named every single sant Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa initiated into the faith in order from memory. Then, male young adult and adult finalists from the dharma gnan competition gave speeches on their random religious topics. Finally, male disciples of all ages competed in the duet and group bhakti nrutya competitions.
In this manner, all week long, disciples of all ages across all mandals of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan in North America were able to showcase their talents to please Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree. Everyone was extremely pleased with the unique performances and variety of talent they were able to see from across the continent. The first, second, and third place winners for all of the competitions were all announced and presented with gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively, in an awards ceremony Saturday morning following parayans and Acharya Swamishree’s divine ashirwad. The medals were custom-engraved with the divine murti of Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa on pure merlin for gold medals, pure nickel for silver medals, and pure bronze for bronze medals. All participants were also presented with certificates of participation and t-shirts with the SGS Talent 2012 logo. In addition, the first-place winners in all male bhakti soor, musical instrument, and bhakti soor categories were given the opportunity to display their talents at the Swamibapa Community Festival that take place on Saturday evening after the nagaryatra. All of the judges were later presented with pure silver prasad coins engraved with the divine murtis of Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree that were used in the Platinum Tula of Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa.
SGS Talent 2012 was a phenomenal success. Disciples of all ages, from the very young to the very old, were extremely eager to showcase their talents in the friendly competition. Regardless of if they won gold, silver, or bronze medals at all, every single participant and committee member was a winner because they all succeeded in making Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Jeevanpran Shree Abji Bapashree, Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, and His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree very proud. They were very pleased to see how the disciples’ talents in bhakti soor, bhakti nrutya, musical instruments, and dharma gnan have progressed since Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa first visited the United States forty-two years ago in 1970 and since Acharya Swamishree established Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan officially in North America twenty-five years ago in 1987. Disciples plan to organize the SGS Talent competition at least every four years, and they pray to the Lord that the next SGS Talent will be an even great success. The disciples also pray that their talents keep progressing so that they may please the Lord more and more with each passing day.