Los Angeles Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav
Schedule of the Mahotsav
On the fourth and final day of the Mahotsav, July 22nd, 2012, 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 Van Nuys, California 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 Los Angeles temple just as He does at His divine abode in Akshardham.
Acharya Swamishree, sants, and disciples then proceeded outside for the flag-raising ceremony. As Acharya Swamishree raised the first flag of Shree Swaminarayan Temple Los Angeles, flower petals showered down from the inside of the flag. This flag will be changed each Patotsav (temple anniversary), to mark the home of Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa in the state of California. Acharya Swamishree and disciples performed aarti to conclude the ceremony.
Swamibapa Pipe Band then escorted Acharya Swamishree into the temple for the last time during the Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav. Acharya Swamishree was adorned in beautifully-crafted vagha that featured a flowing blue cape. He bestowed His divine darshan upon all the disciples of the congregation as He walked down the temple aisle.
Sants and disciples then quickly assembled a grand annkut to offer to the Lord for the first time in the temple. The annkut consisted of various Indian sweets, snacks, and fruit carvings. Acharya Swamishree and sants offered the first aarti to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa, and disciples took turns afterwards.
Acharya Swamishree was then seated upon His gadi, and He showered His final blessings for the Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav. Acharya Swamishree stated that upon the humble request and prayer of Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa, Lord Shree Swaminarayan came from Akshardham and will reside in this temple until the sun and moon shine on this planet. The doors of eternal salvation are now open. Today, Hollywood really became “holy.” Acharya Swamishree thanked the Los Angeles Police Department for their support and blessed them along with the eyewitnesses to the parade and said that they will all achieve eternal salvation.
Acharya Swamishree then said that Lord Shree Swaminarayan is extremely pleased with all the disciples who performed any means of seva, big or small, during this Mahotsav. All the sevas performed with heart, body, and wealth in the Satsang turn into pearls that grant eternal salvation. We have all entered the Lord’s city of love. We are simply a reason for performing a task; the doer of all the actions is Lord Shree Swaminarayan Himself. There is no other Lord like Lord Shree Swaminarayan, and without understanding His true form, eternal salvation is unattainable. Lord Swaminarayan, who is very difficult to be achieved by infinite sages, deities, Ishwars, etc., has so graciously and easily given His murti to us. We should not let this huge opportunity go to waste and should learn His true form.
Acharya Swamishree then started to sing the kirtan “Prem Tamaaro Prem Tamaaro” to show how much love Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa has given us, and sants sang and played musical instruments along in accompaniment. Acharya Swamishree then spontaneously got up on His gadi in the middle of the kirtan and started to dance as He sang. The entire crowd was up on its feet within seconds, dancing along with Him. Sants then started to sing the kirtan “Lela Lehr Thay Re Bapa Jya Padharta,” and the crowd was overcome with even more joy as Acharya Swamishree started to dance faster and faster. Everyone continued to dance throughout the entire kirtan.
Upon being seated again, Acharya Swamishree continued His ashirwad and explained that we should know Lord Shree Swaminarayan to be the incarnator of all incarnations and as the eternal Lord, not as a contemporary God. He who is independently authoritative is called the eternal Lord. Whoever has the power of His superior inherent within Him is called the contemporary God. Everyone who was born will die, but one who performs devotion with love and knowledge will attain eternal salvation. True bliss is not in worldly objects; it is in the Lord’s devotion. With this, Acharya Swamishree concluded His final ashirwad for the Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav of Shree Swaminarayan Temple Los Angeles.
Afterwards, 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. However, the disciples of the West Coast Mandal wanted to do one more thing to please Acharya Swamishree and Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa. In honor of Acharya Swamishree’s 70th manifestation day anniversary this year, the West Coast disciples adorned Acharya Swamishree in extremely beautiful hand-woven vagha. Acharya Swamishree then stood upon His gadi, and sants and disciples showered Him with thousands and thousands of flower petals as joyful kirtans played in the background. Acharya Swamishree’s divine darshan was absolutely magnificent as this was happening. The entire congregation was clapping and singing along as they witnessed this incredible moment. By the end of the celebration, the entire front stage was covered with a layer of flower petals.
Acharya Swamishree then remained standing upon His gadi and bestowed His divine darshan upon the entire congregation. The kirtan "Jay Jay Shreejibapa" 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 around the temple prayer hall, 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.
Acharya Swamishree was then escorted out of the temple. As He exited and gave everyone His divine darshan one more time during the Mahotsav, everyone showered Him with even more flower petals.
Immediately afterwards, everyone was served delicious Punjabi food maha-prasad, and this concluded the four-day Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav of Shree Swaminarayan Temple Los Angeles, California. Because of the Acharya Swamishree and Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa's divine efforts, there is yet another home for Lord 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 Van Nuys, California.