The majestic and traditional “BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir” in Chino Hills (California, USA) is being inaugurated on December 23.
The four-day festivities of Grand Opening Mahotsav reportedly included ceremonial prayers for world peace, murti-pratishtha, nagar-yatra through Artesia streets, kirtan-aradhana, cultural program, dedication assembly, etc.
Said to be one of the largest Hindu houses of worship in Southern California, it reportedly took 16 years to complete. This 20-acre seven-building BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir and Cultural Center complex, rooted in classical Indian architecture, aims to become a center for “spiritual, social and charitable work”; provide educational opportunities; promote inter-religious and inter-cultural harmony; create a society free of addiction, violence, crime and drugs; nurture a “morally, spiritually and socially strong” society”, etc.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this new temple complex would focus in this direction. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of Self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism.
Besides Hindu temple, it will also include a cultural complex, auditorium, grand foyer with intricate wooden carvings, gardens-ponds-fountains, meditative pathways, museum on Indian culture and values, gymnasium, dining hall, classrooms, vegetarian kitchen, places for contemplation, meditation rooms, etc. Its exhibition will provide comprehensive study of Hinduism. It also plans to host medical fairs, educational seminars and career fairs for the local community; besides music and language classes.
Daily schedule of this Mandir includes Arti (twice a day), Abhishek, Maansi Worship, etc. The temple murtis planned reportedly include: Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj, Shri Ghanshyam Maharaj, Shri Harikrishna Maharaj, Shri Radha-Krishna Dev, Shri Shiv-Parvati & Ganeshji, Shri Sita-Ram & Hanumanji, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj, and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Bhaktipriya Swami will reportedly perform the opening ceremonies.
Its website describes Mandir as “a house of prayer that inspires faith in God and guides an individual towards spirituality” and “instills basic virtues of humanity”; “a nucleus of socio-spiritual activities for the benefit and elevation of individuals and society”. Its project leaders, besides others, include Dr. Dilip Patel.
This Hindu temple is open to all faiths, but its Dress Code specifies: No shorts or skirts shorter than knee length. No sleeveless tops. The Management reserves the right to refuse admission to those who may be inappropriately dressed.
The Swaminarayan faith, also known as Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, a Hindu socio-spiritual organization founded over 200 years in India and currently headed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, claims to have over one million followers and over 3,300 centers worldwide, including over 64 in USA.