At the beginning of each New Year, the disciples of Gurudeva Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda eagerly await the celebrations of his Janmotsav falling on January 5. This year, on the occasion of his 125th birth anniversary, a special Janmotsav programme was conducted at YSS Noida Ashram in the presence of Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Culture, and Shri Bhupender Yadav, Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, YSS/SRF sannyasis and over 1500 devotees and guests. This evening programme was one of the highlights of a day full of meditation, chanting, service and loving homage paid by all at the feet of the great master.
The harsh winters of northern India couldn't keep away the 350 devotees in Noida NCR from the celebrations at the YSS Noida Ashram on the early morning of this special Avirbhav Divas. They joined in the group meditation led by Swami Lalitanandaji, and were led outside to the main porch where YSS/SRF sannyasis embarked on the Prabhat Feri with the palanquin of Gurudeva. Leading the long queues of devotees chanting with devotion, the monastics made their way across the campus of the ashram basking in the sunshine which came as a pleasant reprieve on the cold morning.
The glory of the floral blossoms in the ashram lawns, matched by the artistic rangolis made with petals by devotees were a pleasure to watch as one made their way across the ashram, taking turns to hold Yoganandaji's palki with his picture. The melodious bhajans sung by the devotees inspired the feelings of devotion and gratitude among the attendees.
They were served breakfast after the morning programme.
The second main event of the day was serving the underprivileged with prasad food during Narayan Sewa.
A little after noon time, the pandal set up outside the gates of the Noida ashram was inaugurated by Swami Lalitanandaji. Devotees took turns to serve around 1300 people who queued up in front of the stall.
The evening programme commenced at around four in the evening.
Devotees were led through energization exercises, followed by a period of group meditation led by Swami Lalitanandaji in the main pandal. Following the meditation, Swamiji invited Vishwanandaji for the evening satsanga.
Swami Vishwanandaji urged the devotees present in the pandal to ignite immense and intense love in their hearts for Guruji. He mentioned how Paramahansa Yoganandaji had always said that to those who think him to be near, he is near.
With his hand placed over his heart, Swamiji beckoned the devotees to do the same as he led them through an affirmation to feel greater attunement with the presence of Gurudeva Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda on Janmotsav, and benefit from the special vibrations of this spiritually uplifting occasion.
After the discourse, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and Shri Bhupender Yadav, member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha joined the programme. They received a warm welcome to the programme from YSS General Secretary Swami Ishwaranandaji. Swamiji gave a brief introduction about the importance of the occasion and described Guruji’s work through Yogoda Satsanga Society/Self-Realization Fellowship in India and the world over. Swamiji described Guruji as a spiritual engine who drove millions to spirituality all across the globe. Beginning with a small Yogoda school in 1917 in Ranchi, Yoganandaji created spiritual footprints all across the world that went beyond any religion, caste or creed.
As the next speaker, Swami Vishwanandji mentioned how it was a beautiful moment that eminent people had graced the occasion and also mentioned that India is the name of the geographical location, but Bharat is the real name which in Sanskrit means devoted to the eternal light ("bha" means light, and "rat" means devoted) and hence it is the place to search for eternal verities. He shared the immense growth of YSS/SRF with meditation centres in more than 600 cities all across the globe.
One of the main dignitaries of the evening, Shri Bhupender Yadav, already a YSS student and also a kriyaban spoke with reverence for Gurudeva. He decribed how he had benefited from the YSS teachings of Paramahansa Yoganandaji. He urged Dr Mahesh Sharma to speak something on this occasion.
Dr Mahesh Sharma spoke how Paramhansa Yogananda was the chosen soul who changed the perception of yoga all over the world. He mentioned how Prime Minister Narendra Modi had released the stamp to commemorate the Centenary celebrations of YSS on March 7, 2017. He said that we all feel internally happy to read the book 'the Autobiography of a Yogi' authored by Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, and also love to share it with others.
Swami Lalitanandaji offered the vote of thanks after his speech.
In the concluding part of the programme, aarti was conducted by Swami Vishwanandaji following which all present offered flower petals during pushpanjali at the feet of the great Guru. Devotees sang soulful bhajans accompanying the pushpanjali.
Prasad was arranged for all the devotees who had come for the sacred occasion.
This programme was supported by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
To view images from the Janmotsav celebrations at YSS Noida Ashram, click here