Behind the Scenes:
A Shobha Yatra is a peaceful procession of devotees celebrating an idol, guru or theme, often by dressing up, chanting, singing and dancing. This devotional parade made its way to Gurupurnima 2019 in Houston, Texas, a whole decade later. Before we dive into the details of the yatra, let’s take a walk down memory lane as we go “Behind the Scenes” of the planning, coordination and teamwork this production required. With over 7 months of planning involved, here are a few areas of the Shobha Yatra where direct application of Dada’s gnan was utilized day in and day out in order to make this event a success:
Overall Intention: The overall intention of the Shobha Yatra was to raise awareness about Dada’s gnan and bhav of jagat kalyan by showcasing a grand event on the streets of Houston.
A Grand Theme: In late 2018, various themes for the Shobha Yatra were deliberated before the grand theme of celebrating “The Life of Shree Simandhar Swami” was selected by working in unison with the India team. The team was in complete agreement while selecting this theme as it not only incorporated Shree Simandhar Swami, current Tirthankara Lord in Mahavideha Kshetra – a place where all mahatmas strive to reach- but also was dynamic enough to include all mahatmas.
The Official Team: Let’s rewind to Sunday, January 27, the date an official Shobha Yatra WhatsApp group was created. From here on out, the planning team met weekly through Zoom calls while collaborating with various departments throughout the span of six months such as BMHT, LMHT, YMHT, Y+, Decoration, AV, Hall Management, India Liaison Team and more.
Floats: From the initial phases, the team wanted to create a “wow-effect” for those attending the event. Low and behold, not only one, but two floats were created! A Samovasaran float and Pujyashree’s float were both designed and constructed from scratch, by sevarthis from all over the world. Taking into account Pujyashree’s safety as well as the ease at which Y+ are able to pull the floats, the construction was well-rounded and appropriate. Dada, Niruma and Simandhar Swami were incorporated on the floats to shower blessings as they flow through the streets around the hotel!
Recruitment: A major aspect of the yatra was indeed, RECRUITMENT! With the bhav of incorporating all age ranges in the yatra, BMHT, LMHT, YMHT and Y+ were asked to be a part of the event. BMHT wore animal costumes and walked around the samovasaran float, LMHT were scattered through the Lezim dance, scenes such as “Swami playing with his friends” and as sadhu/sadhvis walking around the samovasaran float, YMHT participated in various scenes dressed as dev/devis and Y+ participated in various scenes representing Swami and his familial relations such as Mother, Father and Wife. A special YMHT girls dance was performed for the renunciation aspect of Swami’s life.
#TEAMWORK | ONENESS | UNITY
The Final Production: Over 2,500 mahatmas, 100+ participants, 50+ sevarthis, 25+ reminders, 6 acts, 2 floats and 1 FINAL PRODUCTION! The Shobha Yatra was on Sunday, July 14 from 8 – 9:30 AM, followed by the Pran Pratishtha. With the grace of Dev/Devis, Dada and Niruma and utmost blessings of Pujya Deepakbhai, all obstacles, including poor weather predictions, were cleared away in order to present a sunny, lively Shobha Yatra for all. The following acts were presented:
Introduction of The Life of Shree Simandhar Swami: After Pujyashree’s arrival and flower ceremony for Dada and Niruma, a dhol player officially commenced the yatra as the intro banner and theme was presented to Pujyashree.
Birth of Shree Simandhar Swami: The Birth of Swami followed the intro with dev/devis and his parents showering swami with love and blessings during this joyous occasion. An entourage of LMHT+ followed with a special Lezim dance, never before performed in the states!
Younger Years of Shree Simandhar Swami: This act, broken up into 3 portions including “Swami playing with his friends,” “Swami learning from his guru,” and “Swami’s marriage.”
Renunciation and Keval Gnan: A symbolic dance performance by the YMHT girls representing the life before and after renunciation/diksha.
Samovasaran: An entire samovasaran scene was depicted by a float with baby and little mahatmas performing garba with it!
Grand Finale: Pujyashree’s Float
This grand finale caught mahatmas by surprise as Y+ boys pulled Pujyashree’s Float in order for him to give darshan and blessings to the audience members viewing the yatra. Pujyashree showed his sahaj nature, going with the flow until the very end. Jagat Kalyan ni Bhavna concluded the yatra as Pujyashree was escorted to the Pran Pratishtha.