Kadod (Bharuch), Dec. 11|
To say it was a sea of humanity would be an understatement. Nearly 10 lakh people thronged the banks of river Narmada to participate in the 80th birth anniversary celebrations of Swadhyaya Movement’s founder Pandurang Shastri Athavale, fondly known as Dada, on Sunday.
With 5,000 uniformed swadhyayi women, who provided water to the participants and 6,000 swadhyayis deputed as security personnel, it was a gathering of people with a common goal of celebrating Dada’s birthday.
A separate team, dressed in white for easy identification, was deployed solely to provide security to the women participants. More than 4,700 experts, including doctors and engineers, several stationed at the site for over a month, were involved in making arrangements for the plethora of eager devotees.
Adequate arrangements were made for emergency healthcare situation, including three 10-bed hospitals. As soon as Dada made an appearance, the well-orchestrated dance programme, with over 40,000 youths dressed in blue and yellow costume, kicked off to set the mood for the celebrations to follow.
The dance troupe that extended for well over 1.25 km conveyed the message of continuing in the same spirit the movement started by Dada. Mesmerised by the performance, an emotional Dada expressed confidence that his work will be carried forward by the enthusiastic youths.
The movement, launched several years ago, was started with the sole aim of socio-economic transformation that has changed the lives of millions. Despite ailing health, Athavale Maharaj spoke for half an hour and emphasised on the need to build overall character of today’s youth.
Dada went on remark that even the government is “Asmita sunya” (devoid of pride). The politicians present listened without a grudge. “Even the books today do not teach the importance of having pride,” he said.
Blaming the government and politics for deterioration of the society, he exhorted the masses to depend more on God. “Building thy character and shun ego and inferiority complex,” was the essence of his speech.
Dada’s daughter Jayshree also addressed the gathering. Representatives of over 3,000 NRIs, who are followers of the movement, narrated the impact of the movement and described how it has helped them to adjust to new lives abroad.
Mementos were presented to Dada. None of the speakers who came on the stage announced their names. The function was only marred by one accident in which a person died and about 30 others were injured after a tempo in which they were travelling turned turtle near Amod. They were en route to attend the function.