BAPS creates history at the Sydney Opera House

By: Praful Jethwa, BAPS.

In a city-first, BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir has hosted a cultural parade and assembly in front of Sydney’s two most iconic monuments.

The socio-spiritual Hindu organisation marked the beginning of the centenary celebration of its fifth spiritual leader, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, on Saturday 23 April 2022. This event took place on the steps of the iconic Sydney Opera House with breathtaking views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in backdrop.

Praful Jethwa, Spokesperson for BAPS Australia, said this is the first time a parade organised by a Hindu cultural organisation has taken place on the banks of the Sydney Harbour, leading up to the Sydney Opera House.

“We are lucky to have been allowed to hold the procession for our Guru, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s, centenary celebration at the very place he once stood in 1984,” Mr Jethwa said. “His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj lived by and inspired millions worldwide to live by the values of service, peace, and harmony.

“The Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are internationally recognised icons for the city. But after these celebrations, it will mean so much more to everyone who took part. It will be a place where they could proudly walk as citizens of multicultural Australia, representing their heritage.” 

A large number of people registered to take part in the celebration, which started with a parade at Circular Quay Station and ended at the steps of Sydney Opera House. The procession was followed by a two-hour assembly, which culminated with an impressive fireworks display.

“From infants to elderly members, there were people across all age groups in attendance of this memorable event. This turnout is the very example of the impact His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj had on people’s lives, young and old.” Mr Jethwa said. “He spent his life selflessly serving society. He lived by the motto, ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’ These words encourage our individual growth and teach us to be positively contributing community members.”

The Hindu Council of Australia paid homage to the life and legacy of Pramukh Swami Maharaj by gifting a plaque to BAPS Australia. It, in part read, “His travels to Australia since 1984 have inspired the values of peace, harmony, and unity, which have been the cornerstone of a vibrant multicultural democracy.”

Many distinguished guests attended the event, including Mr Manish Gupta – Consul General of India in Sydney, Mr Geoff Lee – Minister for Corrections, Mr Chris Minns – NSW Leader of Opposition, Ms Julia Finn – Shadow Minister for Sport and Youth, Honourable Daniel Mookhey – Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for the Gig Economy, Lord Mayor Donna Davis – Parramatta City Council, Councillor Sameer Pandey – Deputy Mayor at Parramatta City Council, Councillor Barbara Ward – Deputy Mayor at Ku-ring-gai Council.

About BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in Australia

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Australia has built temples across the country to facilitate the growth of Hinduism in Australia. The first BAPS temple in Australia was inaugurated by Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 1996 in Gladesville, Sydney. Due to growth in the Sydney congregation, another property was purchased in Rosehill in 1999 allowing the congregation to move to a larger facility (which was later inaugurated as a temple in 2002). From that time, with the religious leadership and guidance of Sadhus (Hindu Monks), BAPS Mandirs (Temples) have been established in all five major metropolitan areas in Australia with more planned for smaller cities and towns in the coming years.

In addition to the seven Mandirs in major metropolitan and regional areas (Griffith and NewCastle, NSW), BAPS centres has active congregations regularly meeting for worship and fellowship activities in community centres, halls or hired schools in Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba (QLD), Darwin (NT), Canberra (ACT), Hobart (TAS), Shepparton (VIC) and Geelong (VIC). BAPS also conducts regular neighbourhood fellowship services at community centres in cities where temples exist to reach a broader audience. There are 49 such neighbourhood fellowship services occurring throughout Australia in each of the five major metropolitan areas.

BAPS actively participates in and runs programs and causes that give back to the community, such as COVID relief work, blood donation, tree plantation drives, and walkathons to raise money for local research bodies and hospitals. His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s 100th birthday celebration will be held in BAPS Swaminarayan mandirs and community centres worldwide, with the main festivities in Ahmedabad, India, from 15 December 2022 to 13 January 2023.

More than 100,000 locals and international travellers are expected to take part in the month-long celebrations each day.