Hundreds of devotees of Shree Swaminarayan Siddhant Sajivan Mandal USA gathered at Liberty State Park to honor and remember 5th Spiritual Heir to Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Acharya Shree Purushottampriyadasji Swamishree Maharaj (Acharya Swamishree Maharaj), on August 6.
Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s ashes were spread in the Hudson River near the Statue of Liberty, with a backdrop of the New York City Skyline and New Jersey Golden Coast. His successor, 6th Heir to Lord Shree Swaminarayan, Acharya Shree Jitendriyapriyadasji Swamiji Maharaj (Acharya Swamiji Maharaj), spread the ashes.
Acharya Swamishree Maharaj passed away on July 16, 2020. He served as Acharya of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, a worldwide spiritual cultural organization, for 41 years.
‘Divine spreading of holy ashes’
Since July 2020, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s ashes have been spread all throughout the world, including in India, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Niagara Falls Canada. The Hudson River between New York and New Jersey is the final Asthi Suman Visarjan, or divine spreading of holy ashes, location for Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.
Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band USA, North America’s only Indian American bagpipe band, commenced the event at Liberty State Park’s Flag Plaza. A procession was held from Flag Plaza to the Liberation Monument, where a ceremonial wreath was laid.
After Flag Plaza, the procession continued to the waterfront. There religious ceremonies were held to honor the ashes of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.
Representatives for Governor Phil Murphy, Rep. Bill Pascrell of the 9th Congressional District, and Liberty State Park leadership were in attendance. A yacht was chartered on the Hudson River to allow Acharya Swamiji Maharaj to immerse the ashes of Acharya Swamishree Maharaj.
The bagpipe band played many memorial songs as the yacht cruised along the Hudson River. The ashes were immersed in the Hudson River and a white dove was released to signify peace and love.
This was the last stop of the first North American visit by Acharya Swamiji Maharaj as the new leader of the faith.
6th heir visits North America
Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan–North America welcomed Acharya Swamiji Maharaj to the U.S. in June for his inaugural visit to the country and Canada since becoming the world leader. He was accompanied by a team of sixteen eminent monks known as Sants, as they embarked on a seven-week religious tour of North America visiting all the chapters of Shree Swaminarayan Siddhant Sajivan Mandal USA, a non-profit religious organization located all throughout North America.
Shree Swaminarayan Siddhant Sajivan Mandal-New Jersey is a registered non-profit organization established in 1970, which is a branch of the worldwide organization Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan. The Temple in Secaucus serves as the North American Headquarters for the organization and was built in 1998 and opened in 2001. Over 200 cultural Temples exist in the U.S., Canada, and across the globe.
Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band USA welcomed Acharya Swamiji Maharaj at Newark Liberty International Airport, Terminal B, on June 21. In partnership with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a grand Welcome Swagat Sabha was held at the Newark Airport Welcome Center.
Dignitaries and devotees from across North America travelled to Newark Airport to welcome Acharya Swamiji Maharaj. Several Police Officers and members of Newark Airport leadership welcomed Acharya Swamiji Maharaj with fresh flower garlands.
Prior to becoming world leader, from 2004 to 2019, Acharya Swamiji Maharaj spent every summer in North America and has travelled to nearly all fifty states, spreading the Swaminarayan faith and core values of religious devotion, knowledge, peace, unity, and service to mankind. He follows in his predecessors’, Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa and Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, footsteps of expanding the Swaminarayan faith outside of India.
Since his appointment in 2020, Acharya Swamiji Maharaj, of Maninagar, Gujarat, India, has travelled on religious mission trips to Australia, Kenya, the United Kingdom, and throughout India. His aim is to safely bring people back together, as restrictions begin to ease for COVID-19, and remind them of the importance of faith and unity.
Formal welcome in Secaucus
A formal welcome ceremony was held on June 22 at Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Secaucus. Despite forecast for rain all day, a break in the weather allowed for the outdoor welcome parade to proceed. Hundreds of devotees from across North America arrived at Secaucus Temple to welcome Acharya Swamiji Maharaj, as he sat on a hand-made, intricate chariot; custom made in USA by Mandir volunteers, as devotees sang and danced to welcome him.
Mayor Michael Gonnelli greeted Acharya Swamiji Maharaj to formally welcomed him to Secaucus, and the Indian-American youth of Secaucus Temple surprised everyone with a welcome dance as Acharya Swamiji Maharaj entered the Mandir. Several young devotees under the age of 10, who are a part of Secaucus Temple’s Gujarati Classes, sang kirtans in Gujarati to welcome Acharya Swamiji Maharaj, who continually promotes the importance of American born youth to learn their mother language of Gujarati.
Acharya Swamiji Maharaj then departed New Jersey to commence his tour. He opened a newly constructed, traditional Shikhar Bandh Hindu Temple in Ocala, Florida on July 7 to 9, followed by a groundbreaking ceremony for a new temple in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He also visited chapters in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, California, Arizona, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Connecticut, and Canada.
Acharya Swamiji Maharaj concluded his inaugural North America tour in August back in New Jersey. Disciples from across the United States and Canada gathered on August 6 for the devotional remembrance ceremony and scattering of ashes honoring Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. Acharya Swamiji Maharaj celebrated the Secaucus Temple’s 21st Anniversary before eventually departing the U.S. to the U.K. on August 10.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com.