FR&A Pictorial: Swaminarayan Temple Combines Holy, Anniversary Celebrations


vadtal dahm91The Shree Swaminarayan temple, known as Vadtal Dham, held a joint anniversary and holy celebration on July 13 at its Amwell Road location.

The Swaminarayan Hindu religious observance, called the Holy Yagna, is normally held in September, said Deval Desai of Sayreville, a member of the temple’s youth group. Temple leaders decided this year to combine the holy celebration with the festivities surrounding its 10th anniversary, he said.

The anniversary celebration will continue through July 20.

The Yagna, or fire sacrifice, was held in the field next to the temple. A number of colorful “kunds,” or fire pots, were scattered on the field, into which different types of fire wood were placed and lit.

During the course of the celebration, 16 different items such as different types of food and flowers were placed into the fire as offerings to the gods, Swami Hari Prasaddas said, with Desai interpreting.

“We use the holy fire to please the gods so they give us food and rain,” he said.

Swaminarayans believe that the practice, Swami Prasaddas said, has been around “since the Earth started.”

The day was highlighted by the visit of the Swaminarayan Acharya Maharaj – their spiritual leader – Rakeshpragadji Maharaj, who traveled from India, Desai said.

When he arrived at the temple, followers bent to touch his feet.

“That’s a sign of respect,” Desai said.

The Acharya was led to the festival field by a group of men chanting, dancing and playing instruments.

The Acharya then led a religious ceremony, which was followed by a procession through the temple’s parking lot, with the Acharya and temple priests riding on a large, colorful float.

The procession was led by the Woodbridge-based Metropolitan Festival Band, which at first seemed a bit incongruous.

“We play all kinds of festivals,” said the band’s founder, Michael Aronando.

Shree Swaminarayan Holy Yagna Celebration 7-13-14



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