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May 24-25, 2008
Toronto, Canada

All I can say is that if you only have time to visit one place on Doors Open make sure it is this one. It is definitely worth a visit. - Christopher Hume, Toronto Star Newspaper

These words kicked-off the Doors Open Toronto Event which drew thousands of visitors to the mandir in the following days.

Background

Doors Open Toronto is a yearly citywide celebration where up to 150 Toronto buildings of architectural, historic, cultural and social significance open their doors to the public for one weekend. The program allows visitors free access to properties that are either not usually open to the public, or would normally charge an entrance fee. Buildings that the broader community might not know are open to the public are also included.

Participating buildings range from heritage landmarks to modern structures and hidden gems and more. 2008 is the ninth year the City of Toronto has presented Doors Open. Doors Open encourages everyone to become a tourist in their own city. This year's theme was "Sacred Spaces" and BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto was selected to be one of the premier buildings for 2008.

In the days leading up to the event, large posters across the city and in the subways announced BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir as one of the premier sites to visit.

The Toronto Star Newspaper gave headline coverage of the mandir. Special live coverage on Toronto's number one morning show "Breakfast Television" and national coverage on CBC-TV evening news drew thousands of visitors to the Mandir in the following days.

The Event

Specially trained BAPS children and youth tour volunteers were on hand from early in the morning to welcome the visitors and to provide tours at this spiritual, educational and family friendly "Sacred Space". Visitors were greeted by the parking volunteers. At the mandir steps, spot guides briefed them about the mandir and provided guidelines for a comfortable visit.

Hundreds of royal elephants, peacocks and lotus flowers welcomed visitors in the building, constructed of intricately hand-carved Burmese teak in the traditional Haveli style of architecture. In the centre foyer, visitors enjoyed traditional and classical live music. During the on-going multi-media presentation on the creation of the mandir, visitors also learned about the spiritual heritage and traditions of India. They saw the uniquely designed prayer hall constructed entirely without pillars, signifying a Beautiful Borderless World welcoming all visitors.

In the mandir, they experienced first hand the magnificent architectural beauty of the hand carved stone and marble domes and pillars. They also learned about the Hindu mode of worship by witnessing the Arti ritual. Many guests also visited the educational and entertaining Canadian Museum of Cultural Heritage of Indo-Canadians and the Abhishek Mandapam.

After their visit many visitors also participated in a special tree-planting ceremony in honor of "Green Spaces Day" in Toronto.

BAPS volunteers, young and old alike, worked hand in hand to provide an unforgettable experience for the visitors. More than 16,400 people of all walks of life came to visit the mandir during the two day event.

Media Quotes:

Toronto Star Newspaper:

"By noon, thousands of people had crowded into the new (Hindu) BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir marble temple (Highway 427 and Finch), according to Doors Open spokesperson Jane French, who took a group from the Chicago Architectural Foundation to see the breathtaking building. The group traveled to Toronto to learn first hand about the annual Doors Open event. "Kids as young as 12 were guides and so proud of the building," she said. "The Chicago people were very impressed with this multi-generational involvement."

TORONTO STAR NEWSPAPER - 24 May 2008

Article: http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/article/427430

Video: http://www.thestar.com/fpLarge/video/426666

Virtual Tours: (Hold the left mouse button and move the mouse, press shift to zoom in, Control to zoom out)

http://www3.thestar.com/cgi-bin/star_static.cgi?section=plus&page=/Videos/080516_doorsopen_vr1.html

http://www3.thestar.com/cgi-bin/star_static.cgi?section=plus&page=/Videos/080516_doorsopen_vr2.html

BT - Breakfast Television:

"I feel very welcome here...It is not only breathtaking but whether you are of this religion or not, it is really an emotional experience. It is awe-inspiring..."

"You have to see it in person, because it is breathtaking"

"It is so incredibly awesome that you think it's not real"

"Take in the very positive energy here and witness the beautiful architecture"

Nalini Sharma, LIVE from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Friday 23 May 2008 (6:30am - 9am)

CBC Evening News:

"Intricate patterns and detail, stunning workmanship...both sacred and breathtaking at the same time" -- Mike Wise, CBC News, Friday 23 May 2008 (6pm).

COMMON QUOTES FORM VISITORS:

Thank you for allowing us to visit your beautiful mandir.

I am very impressed with the involvement of the youngsters of your community."

Breathtaking! "Absolutely beautiful!" "Masterpiece!"

"I would love to come back again!" "Informative"

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