During the Festival of Inspirations at the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, two uniquely themed programs, “My House to Home: Inspiring Family Values” and “Swami Malvathi” took place
The first segment of “My House to Home” organized by women, for women, showcased women from diverse backgrounds sharing personal tales of the importance of family values in child-rearing. Themes of unity and forgiveness were explored to maintain harmony in one’s family and within oneself. “It is okay to ask for help. Learn to lean on your inspiration” said Dr. Rakhee Patel, BAPS volunteer and dentist.
The second half of the program emphasized the significance of family values in child-rearing through speeches and dramas. Opening with a thought-provoking video on the essence of good parenting, the event illustrated that effective parenting balances guidance with freedom, setting boundaries while fostering individuality. Through engaging narratives, the program showcased how to navigate the challenges of parenthood.
Key elements of positive parenting were explored in a panel discussion and further emphasized by Pujya Anandswarupdas Swami. Such parenting offers warmth, security, and unconditional love. Pujya Vivekjivandas Swami stressed the role of parents as a home’s emotional pillar, emphasizing health, education, and values as crucial in child upbringing, as once shared by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His message resonated: “A family that eats, plays, and prays together, stays together.” A pivotal takeaway was the harm of comparing children to others, which can instill lasting feelings of inferiority.
Distinguished guests included Mr. Vincent Lima from Moelis & Company, who praised the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham’s volunteer-driven efforts in creating a haven of peace. The evening concluded with a speech by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj on the most important and universal lessons a parent can imbibe, “Give your children unconditional love and avoid comparisons. Just as the right care helps a tree grow, children need proper love and nourishment. Don’t rush their growth; let them blossom.” He underscored that values instilled today shape generations tomorrow.
The other program, “Swami Malvathi” (after meeting a spiritual guru) was a special tribute from the teenagers to their guru, Mahant Swami Maharaj. A guru serves as a friend, a mentor, and most importantly, a guide through all moments in life. One’s relationship with the guru is one of the most transformative relationships in life. The program explored what strengthening one’s bond with the guru looks like and what it means to truly understand the guru.
The first half of the program featured young women who shared unique perspectives from their life experiences of how distance is no obstacle in forming a spiritual connection with the guru. Through reflections on heartfelt prayers offered in times of distress, service performed selflessly as inspired by their guru, and divine memories from the spiritual tours of Mahant Swami Maharaj, the participants illustrated ways in which they’ve been able to strengthen their bond with Mahant Swami Maharaj and feel his guiding presence in their lives, irrespective of distance.
During the evening assembly, students shared candid experiences as they navigated some of the most challenging years of their lives, before and during college, by reflecting on the intuitive foresight and support they received through Mahant Swami Maharaj’s verbal or written guidance. The program featured an Augmented reality experience designed and implemented by the youths of BAPS. Augmented reality is an interactive experience in which a real-world environment is enhanced with computer-generated visual elements and sounds.
The event was honored by the presence of several dignitaries, including Robbinsville Township Council President Deborah Blakely, who shared motivating words with the youth. “Our journey is to find what you are passionate about, what brings you joy and fulfills you. Use them on your journey to get involved in your community, school, and where you worship.” Dr. Chirag Patel, Co-Founder and President of Amneal Pharmaceuticals, remarked, “The world can look beautiful if you are spiritual. What you are doing here and what is passed to our generations to come is unthinkable and only can be done with the grace of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and Mahant Swami Maharaj.”
During the assembly, key guests in attendance included Bharat Patel, Chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association (AAHOA); Dr. H.R. Shah, Chairman and CEO of TV Asia; Dr. Gaurav Shah, CEO of Rocket Pharmaceuticals; Chirag Patel, Co-Founder and President of Amneal Pharmaceuticals; Grammy winner Falguni Shah; and Deborah Blakely, the Robbinsville Township Council President.
In conclusion of the program, Mahant Swami Maharaj shared inspiring words with all in attendance. “The happiness and sorrows of this world will come and go for all, but if you keep your focus on Prapti (spiritual attainment), then happiness and sorrows will not affect you,” he said, giving a lasting memory through loving guidance to the youth.