On the radiant day of Saturday 26th August 2023, devotees gathered to honour the 9th Patotsav (Anniversary) of the illustrious Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury. The installation of the Murtis of Shree Ghanshyam Maharaj, Shree Jeevanpran Abji Bapashree and Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa in the magnificent golden sinhasan was performed by Ved Ratna Acharya Shree Purushottampriyadasji Swamishree Maharaj in 2014.
Gnan Mahodadhi Acharya Swamiji Maharaj performed the Patotsav Vidhi and Poojan ceremony; the ritual performed, as established and defined by Sadguru Shree Gopalanand Swamibapa were described in English on the screens, enabling disciples to understand the Vidhi and also pay a heartfelt tribute to the Murtis within the magnificent mandir.
The annual grand annakut; a feast featuring a variety of sweets and savouries prepared with love by the Sants and devotees, was offered to the Lord. Gnan Mahodadhi Acharya Swamiji Maharaj and the revered Sants graced the occasion by performing Aarti to the Lord. Subsequently, the event sponsors and devotees had the privilege of performing Aarti to the Lord, bestowing their heartfelt offerings to Bapa.
The morning then saw a launch of Kingsbury Mandir's tenth anniversary, the Dashabdi Mahotsav, with the celebrations kicking off with the unveiling of a new Mahotsav logo. This was revealed by Acharya Swamiji Maharaj, and was proudly hoisted on the mandir's flag, symbolising the start of the festivities. Prem Murti Bapa was warmly welcomed into the Mandir with a splendid Swagat Yatra, carried on a golden palanquin by the Dashabdi Mahotsav sponsors who also walked in the swagat carrying the Vachanamrut, Sanskar Deepika part 7 and Mantra trees - all symbolising the pledges the community of Kingsbury Mandir were shortly about to make to the Lord. The procession was led by haribhaktos playing traditional instruments, while young devotees waved colourful ribbons representing the Indian and British flags. The Mandir came alive with cheers as the procession entered, accompanied by the newly composed kirtan for the Dashabdi Mahotsav.
In the spirit of anticipation and unity, merchandise in the form of wristbands, fridge magnets, and calendars were unveiled, serving as constant reminders of the forthcoming Mahotsav.
The air was electric with excitement as devotees embraced the auspicious launch of the Mahotsav. To kickstart the celebrations, the devotees of Kingsbury Mandir pledged to Lord Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa to do the following for the next 12 months leading up to the Dashabdi Mahotsav:
Additionally, devotees have pledged to achieve the following in the next year:
A 7 day festival will be arranged in August 2024 as we look forward to the next 10 years with spirituality, compassion and selflessness to celebrate the teachings of our Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj- it was He who inspired the creation of this magnificent Mandir complex.
The celebrations concluded with Swamiji Maharaj's Divine Ashirwad in which he deliberated and explained as follows;
The memory of when Prem Murti Bapa opened this grand Mandir with such pomp and ceremony is so vivid, that it feels like it all happened just yesterday.
Every single person here today - young, old, ladies, gents, sants - is keen to celebrate our Dasabdi Mahotsav. In order to truly celebrate this festival, our sole aim in the lead up should be to enjoin with the Lord more and more over the course of this one year. We all want to attain the favour of God, and in order to achieve that we must over the next year perform bhajan to Him. This is sure to enable us to experience the bliss of God. This is beyond any physical joy, but is the bliss of the Lord’s Murti that is experienced by our indriyas and antahakarans.
We’ve just heard about all the ways that we will be pleasing the Lord in the lead up to the Mahotsav. Out of all of these means, reading the Rahasyarth Pradeepika Tika sah Vachanamrut is the hardest. Despite not needing any money or physical effort to do this, it is still hard. The easy things are for others to do - the hard things, the fruitful things, are for us to do. Not a single day should pass between today and the Mahotsav where you do not read at least a page from this nectarous scripture. Be assured, the benefits of doing this difficult task will be great.
The three main activities we must all perform in prelude to the Dasabdi Mahotsav are the recital of the Vachanamrut as explained; writing the Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa mantra repeatedly as a means to focus our minds on God; and charitable endeavours. On that latter point - the Lord has explained that if we have the means, we should help others: if we have money, we should donate; if we have strength, we should physically serve others. And in doing all of this, we will spread the name of the Lord far and wide.
The Lord explains in the Vachanamrut that some people fail to see their own faults but see everyone else’s faults. He has warned us against having this dangerous trait. So, in reading the Lord’s words in the Vachanamrut, and Bapashree’s explanations in the Tika, use it as a means to compare your own thoughts and behaviours to what the Lord is asking us to do, and see it as an opportunity to imbibe those values. Never use this scripture as a means to measure anyone else but yourself. If you see flaws in others, it is certain that you yourself are full of flaws.
By seeing others’ virtues, we derive internal peace. By looking for and picking at others’ flaws, we will become agitated. This is guaranteed. The Lord gives a number of analogies about this. (1) A bee extracts nectar from any flower it lands on. Even when a bee sits in a cactus, it can extract nectar even from that bitterest of plants. (2) Our only interest in a buffalo should be its sweet milk. What benefit is there in worrying about whether its horns are straight or otherwise? What benefit is there is seeing that flaw? None at all!
In short, the more we see others’ flaws, the more flawed we ourselves actually are; the more we see others’ virtues, the more virtuous we will become.
The celebrations ended with Mahaprasad offered to all devotees, making it a fitting conclusion to this auspicious day.