BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, the largest Hindu temple constructed outside India in modern times, opened its doors on Sunday in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
A sacred dedication: Devotees conducted a nine-day celebration commencing on Sept. 30 and culminating in the grand dedication ceremony on Oct. 8, under the guidance of Mahant Swami Maharaj. During the ceremony, Swami Maharaj conducted the “Pran Prathistha,” a sacred ritual that sanctified the temple amid traditional ceremonies and rituals.
The temple will be accessible to the public starting from Oct. 18.
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Monument of spiritual significance: Ahead of the grand dedication ceremony, India’s Permanent Representative at the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj led a delegation of ambassadors and UN representatives to the temple.
During the event, Dilip Chauhan, deputy commissioner at the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, hailed the temple as a “dream come true” for devotees, volunteers and followers across the U.S. He highlighted that the temple serves as a cultural complex that unites communities and fosters diversity.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY, 6) emphasized the significance of the temple by dedicating Oct. 8 as “Akshardham Day” in New York City’s 6th Congressional District.
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged the importance of the occasion, stating, “It is an occasion of profound spiritual significance for the vast legion of devotees worldwide.”
About the temple: The BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham temple, which sits on a vast 126-acre property, is part of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, a global religious and civic organization affiliated with the Swaminarayan sect. The organization, approaching its 50th anniversary in North America, oversees a vast network of more than 1,200 temples and 3,850 centers across the globe. This temple marks the third Akshardham established by the organization, following those in New Delhi and Gujarat.
A feat of architecture and artistry: The temple’s construction, which took approximately 12 years, required over 12,500 skilled artisans and devoted volunteers to build and meticulously hand-carve about 2 million cubic feet of stone. Materials including four distinct types of marble from Italy and limestone from Bulgaria traveled over 8,000 miles from India to New Jersey.
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