As concerns around the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic grow, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, following the guidance of public health agencies has decided to close all mandirs in USA, Canada, Europe and Australia, as well as suspend all public, social and religious activities, including conferences, until further notice.
These steps are being taken to proactively protect the health and safety of volunteers, visitors and local communities. Although the drastic steps are necessitated by the nature of the pandemic, BAPS will continue to provide spiritual guidance to devotees and Hindus. At a time when prayer, reflection and family activities can bring calm, solace, and peace of mind, BAPS will be using novel means to hold its weekly assemblies and instructive activities for all age groups through interactive online forums.
Bhavisha Modi, Realtor Associate in Princeton, New Jersey, said, “I find it very reassuring that we have found a way to continue my children’s weekly religious instruction in English, as well as the Gujarati assemblies that I attend on Sunday evenings online. There are even online webcasts planned to teach spiritual lessons together as a family. I find it amazing that these platforms were created globally in less than a week. It speaks volumes on the organization’s infrastructure. It also shows that we take our spiritual life seriously.” To prevent large gatherings, BAPS mandirs will be closed throughout USA, Canada, Europe and Australia, but devotees will be given daily darshan through the websites of each mandir. Dr. Kashyap Patel, a cardiologist in Atlanta, Georgia said, “Satsang happens in social settings. But in exceptional times, we have to find other ways. We realize that our gurus and seers insisted that we accompany each other and serve each other on the spiritual journey, but this calamity has changed the world –for the moment. That doesn’t change the fact that my spiritual life gives me the wisdom I need to approach the difficulties my family and I face. My gurus, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, have always stressed the importance of family values, communication within the family, and using spirituality as a means to come together and find pragmatic solutions to everyday issues. Now is the time I apply them.”
The spiritual leader of BAPS, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, has offered prayers in India for the well-being of all those affected by the pandemic.