Clarkston, GA: Over a thousand devotees participated in the joyous Janmashtmi celebrations at the Shri Bochasanwasi Aksharpurushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Temple, on Sunday, August 13.
The temple had a festive look and the stage was artistically decorated with Lord Krishna and a peacock forming an attractive backdrop. One of the stages was adorned with miniature hindolas (artistic cradles), made by several youths, which had Lord Krishna seated in them. A rich mix of bhajans, kirtans and dhoon was provided by Yuvak Mandal’s talented singers and musicians, while multi-media presentations, uplifting speeches and lively folk dances commemorated the birth and life of Lord Krishna.
The program was compered by Ketan Vaghela who began by explaining the significance of the Janmashtmi celebrations. All joined in singing and clapping during the dhoon Ram Krishna Govind, Jai Jai Govind.
Pujya Shantmurti Swami gave an engrossing talk on the Bhagwad Gita, which focused on Arjun’s despondency caused by his attachment to Lord Krishna’s censure to be brave. He further explained the qualities of a true devotee, recounting various episodes in H.D.H. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s illustrious life as a Gunatit Sant.
An update on the construction of the new BAPS Shikharbadh Temple being built in Lilburn,GA including an expressed gratitude to the skilled artisans working on the temple. “Due to the grace of our Guru, one-third of the construction has been completed and smooth progress is being made daily”, said Yogeshbhai Patel the project manager. On auspicious day of Rakshabandhan the Foundation Laying Ceremony was conducted for the Family and Activity Center (FAC) where future celebrations will take place along with having medical facilities, youth music classes and numerous other activities.
The youths of the Bal Mandal, received a deafening applause as they ran on stage in colorful costumes to the beat of pulsating music, and performed an exuberant dance to Govinda aala re aala, Govinda Gopala , climaxing it by standing on each other’s shoulders and forming a human pyramid to knock off the matki.
An update on the havoc caused by incessant rains and the floods in Gujarat, especially Surat and Kheda was given. A slide show depicted the horrific destruction of property, infrastructure, human and animal lives. BAPS, with support from the Indian Government authorities and Indian Air Force had been providing the utmost help to those affected by providing food, medicines, clothing and other necessities. The floods have affected Ahmedabad, Nadiad, Bharuch, Vadodara, Gandhinagar, Navsari, Valsad, Mumbai and many other places. The situation in Surat is still grim; therefore five columns of the Indian Army have been called to provide succor to the flood affected people. To add to the misery, water-borne diseases are causing many deaths.
As of 19th August, the following relief effort has been rendered in 20 Centers:
324,155 food packets, 276,000 water pouches 17,000 milk pouches and 5 tones of milk powder, 14650 people provided hot meals, 6,000 family packs (cooking oil, flour grains, etc), two tankers of drinking water.
Amidst the Janmashtmi celebrations, the devotees were highly encouraged to donate funds and offer prayers, for these unfortunate victims of nature. The Gandhi Foundation of USA and National Federation of Indian Associations were also commended for their support through financial contributions in the relief operations.
India's ranking has improved from 65 to 53, according to 'The Economic Freedom of The World: Annual Report 2006', published Thursday by the Canada-based Fraser Institute.
The index measures the performance of countries on the freedom it allows on various parameters like the size of government, access to money, freedom to trade globally, labour and credit market regulation.
The latest report, which uses 2004 data and takes 1970 as base, rates Hong Kong and Singapore once again at the top position.
The report, which was formally released here by Sanjaya Baru, media advisor to the prime minister of India, states: "India and China continues to attract a lot of attention as both have implemented market-oriented reforms and have reported a rapid economic growth."
In the 130-nation index, New Zealand, Switzerland and the US together occupy the third place while India's 53rd rank is shared with Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Georgia and Armenia.
China's ranking at 95 is shared by a number of developing countries including Bangladesh and Pakistan.
"The reforms in India have been deeper than those in China where formal economic
liberalization has been restricted to just a few zones," the report states.