Sharad Poonam is the last full moon of the Hindu calendar year and is usually the first moon after the monsoon rains. "Sharad" is the name for the season between the monsoon and winter, and "poonam" is the full moon; hence, this auspicious day is called "Sharad Poonam." It is said that this particular full moon is extra bright and clear, so, traditionally, people meet and feast together under the bright moonlight and decorate the surrounding area in silver and stainless steel ornaments and utensils that reflect the moonlight and make the atmosphere even brighter. They then perform raas in celebration of the evening.
For disciples of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, Sharad Poonam takes on an important spiritual meaning. Just as the moon is pure, our hearts and souls, too, must remain pure. Just as the ornaments and utensils reflect the moonlight, we also must remain vigilant and faithful to the Lord's teachings and commands, abide by His wishes, and reflect such true dedication and devotion. However, if the ornaments and utensils are tainted, the moonlight cannot be properly reflected. As such, if our minds and hearts are tainted by internal enemies, such as anger, lust, greed, arrogance, etc., we are also unable to abide by the Lord's wishes and commands. Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa says that this is the time to be truthful and honest with oneself and consider truly how faithful we are to the Lord's will.
Disciples across North America celebrated Sharad Poonam with samuh-raas at our various temples during the weekend of October 12-13, 2019. Lord Shree Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa were seated on raised platforms, which were decorated with stainless steel dishes and utensils. Disciples performed aarti the Lord, young disciples performed devotional dances, and everyone then circled around the divine Murti of the Lord to perform devotional raas to the accompaniment of live kirtan-singing and musical instruments. Disciples were served delicious maha-prasad with doodh-poha (traditionally eaten on this day) after the raas. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the evening singing, playing, and dancing to Lord Shree Swaminarayanbapa Swamibapa and His Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree's praises!