His Divine Holiness Acharya Shree Jitendriyapriya Swamiji Maharaj arrived in the UK on Saturday 20th November 2021 to commence His first overseas vicharan as Acharya of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi. It had been nearly 500 days since Acharya Swamiji Maharaj ascended to the Shree Swaminarayan Gadi throne following the return to Akshardham of His Divine Holiness Shree Purushottampriyadasji Swamishree Maharaj in July 2020. Given the global pandemic climate, this visit to the UK was the first of His tenure as leader of the global faith.
Shree Muktejeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band welcomed Acharya Swamiji Maharaj upon His arrival, along with a mandal of ten sants, at London Heathrow Airport. Of course, the disciples of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi residing in the UK were eager for His arrival, but Acharya Swamiji Maharaj had two primary purposes for His visit. The first was to include the UK as part of the Asthi Suman Visarjan Yatra – the scattering of Acharya Shree Purushottampriyadasji Swamishree Maharaj’s divine ashes at various locations around the world.
The second was to promote the Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Suvarna Mahotsav that takes place in September 2022 to mark fifty years since Jeevanpran Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa unveiled Shree Swaminarayan Gadi to the world.
During His short visit to the UK, Acharya Swamiji Maharaj resided at Shree Swaminarayan Mandirs in London and Bolton, Greater Manchester, holding dozens of scripture recitals and visiting many disciples’’ homes and businesses.
The Asthi Suman Visarjan ceremonies were performed in the presence of hundreds of disciples at Lake Windermere and in Richmond – both locations of substantial historic significance for the organisation: Earlier on the very day that the Adya Acharya of Shree Swaminarayan Gadi, Jeevanpran Swamibapa ended His time on Earth in 1979, He visited Lake Windermere in the Lake District in Northern England.
Since then, this area has become a place of pilgrimage for Jeevanpran Swamibapa’s followers. During this same visit to the UK, Jeevanpran Swamibapa visited Ham, a suburban district in Richmond, south-west London, and so shortly after His return to Akshardham, His disciples scattered His ashes in the River Thames by Ham. The Asthi Suman Visarjan ceremonies of scattering Ved Ratna Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s divine ashes took place in Windermere on 27th November, and in Richmond on 4th December 2021. His Divine Holiness Acharya Shree Jitendriyapriya Swamiji Maharaj returned to India on 6th December 2021.