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BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple, New Jersey. Wikimedia commons

New Jersey, April 23, 2017: It is a fact that Hinduism is not only confined to the peninsular country of India but this religion transcends over the world. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in New Jersey is a result of this very growth of Hinduism. Robbinsville, New Jersey may seem like an odd place for a religious pilgrimage, but that is exactly what it became when the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, also known at BAPS, inaugurated what is reported to be one of the largest U.S. Hindu temples in early August 2014 and since then huge crowd has been drawn to Robbinsville every year.

If you see photos of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple that is adorned with intricate Italian Carrara marble hand-carvings and images sacred to the Hindu faithful, you may think that you’re looking at the image of a structure thousands of miles away.


But this otherworldly temple is right around the corner in Robbinsville, Mercer County, and has been attracting those of the Hindu faith as well as those interested in its architecture and significance since it was built in 2014.

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“For the Hindus, this is a place to see God, purify themselves and increase their faith in God,” said Lenin Joshi, a mandir volunteer who lives in Lawrenceville and visits the mandir about twice a week. “For those who are not Hindu, they feel that coming here calms their minds and they experience peace. They learn the messages of tolerance, nonviolence and coexistence, and many also find the strength to give up addictions when they come.”

“The mandir is a one-of-a-kind temple made completely out of marble carved by hand using the ancient knowledge of temple making,” said Joshi. “Be prepared to be blown away by the craftsmanship. Many say that being there made them feel like they were in a dream or they found it to be heavenly.”

The carvings that adorn the mandir feature unique depictions of animals, deities and designs. Each of the 98 seven-foot pillars that fill the mandir, it took four artisans about two months to carve.

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Although there are nearly 80 BAPS temples in North America, the Robbinsville mandir is just the sixth built entirely of stone and according to an ancient Hindu architectural tradition based in the Shilpa Shastras, the Times of Trenton reported. It took three years, many volunteer hours and roughly $18 million to build.

Individuals and families are not required to book their visit in advance to the mandir, which has free admission and can accommodate about 150 people at a time, and on arrival, they can inquire about the availability of a tour guide or the audio tour guide. Tours last about 40 minutes to one hour, and visitors can learn about the artwork that adorns the mandir, Bhagwan Swaminarayan (to whom the mandir is dedicated), His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj (who inspired the mandir), see the greenery surrounding the mandir as well as see an arti ceremony.

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The arti ceremonies, which occurs three times per day at 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., are ancient Hindu offerings made by waving lighted wicks before sacred images to the accompaniment of a musical prayer. Many visitors have described the experience as awe-inspiring.

“At the heart of a Hindu mandir is personal devotion, bhakti, a one-on-one devotion with God,” said Trivedi, one of the founders of the mandir. “Primarily it provides a home, and it is not only a house of God but a house for the devotee”

“I always leave the mandir with a lot of peace,” said Joshi. “I feel that I have had hope renewed in me. This place can inspire everyone to live a better life.”

prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram, Twitter: @NikitaTayal6


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