Festival of Inspirations/Event Recaps/My Country, My Duty – Celebrating Service to the Nation

My Country, My Duty – Celebrating Service to the Nation

Monday August 28, 2023

On August 10, 2023, the Festival of Inspirations celebrated the value of service in a special assembly themed “My Country, My Duty” in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The Festival of Inspirations is a celebration of the timeless values inspired by BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, both in the present and for generations to come.

This motivational program celebrated and showcased the significance of serving our local communities as a way of highlighting our collective duty to be upstanding citizens of our country. The assembly featured speeches by distinguished swamis and honorable guests, including local first responders and government leaders. The famous words of former President John F. Kennedy resonated throughout the evening: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” – a strong reminder that service is our duty to our home, our community, our country, and the world.
A compelling speech by Pujya Chaitanyamurti Swami set a robust foundation for what the program’s theme “My Country, My Duty” embodied. His speech highlighted Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s core belief that helping and serving the nation you live in is also a form of dharma, or doing our duty. Pujya Chaitanyamurti Swami emphasized that serving our nation is equivalent to serving our guru. Service is built into each and every stone of Akshardham and it is the very vision of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. All should look to the volunteers we see here at the Festival of Inspirations; with the same passion with which volunteers have given themselves for the building of Akshardham, they have served their local communities.

Among distinguished guests, it was a privilege to honor various service members, including first responders and the local Robbinsville Police Department. Their hard work was acknowledged for tirelessly dedicating to keep our communities safe and their commitment to protect and serve the township. A donation of $5,000 was presented to the Rapid Response Partnership of Mercer County on behalf of BAPS, in recognition of their efforts responding to incidents of high complexity. Another $5,000 donation was also presented to the 200 Club of Mercer County, an association dedicated to providing financial assistance to families of essential personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Sergeant Scott Kivet said, “As we enter the gates here, we enter the gates of a community with an absolute beautiful spirit. As you would say, I believe you call it ‘sada das’, symbolizing your ability to always serve.” Dr. Manjit Singh Bains, renowned thoracic surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and professor at Cornell University Medical College, echoed similar notions about responsibility and service. He expressed that more than the architectural beauty, his visit today was beyond expectations because of what Akshardham stands for and what it does. “What we are achieving here is educating young people for mutual respect, responsibility, and the spirit of giving which is so important in this day and age.”

To understand how to be a better citizen, a stage drama took the audience through the journey of one family’s hesitation, experiences, and growth in learning simple yet practical ways to engage in civic duty. The drama explored difficult questions that arise in everyone’s mind when it comes to balancing resources of time and money. It shed light on low-key responsibilities that have a high impact throughout the nation, such as community clean-up and the important civic duty to vote.
In an eloquent conclusion to an often-forgotten message, Mahant Swami Maharaj’s blessings took the form of heartfelt sentiments for good citizenship. He said, “For those who serve society, their service reaches God. Never serve others for personal gain, rather service should be to earn the favor of God and guru. Whatever line of work you choose, like being a teacher or a lawyer, you can serve society within that line of work. Whatever work you choose to do, be it that of a doctor or a teacher, be a good doctor or a good teacher. Do not be ordinary in what you do, rather do it well and excel at it, in a way which helps you serve society.”

The program also recognized the following distinguished guests in attendance at the Festival of Inspiration’s evening program titled “My Country, My Duty.”