By the grace of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and with the blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the foundation stone-laying ceremony (Shilanyas Vidhi) for a unique Hindu Mandir and Prayer Hall in Robbinsville, New Jersey was performed on August 21 and 22, 2010 in the presence of Sadguru Sant Pujya Doctor Swami, 40 sadhus, and devotees from throughout the country. The Mandir will include intricately-carved stonework while the adjacent Prayer Hall will include an assembly hall and youth activity areas. This ceremony marks the start of the first two phases of construction for the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex, a Hindu American Religious Center in North America. The mandir will serve as a place of worship for the faithful and is intended to supplement the primary Akshardham Mahamandir.
Devotees of all ages attended this historic event, participating in the pujan vidhi in one of four sessions over two days. Pramukh Swami Maharaj had consecrated the foundation stones for the Mandir on July 12, 2010 in New Delhi. Those consecrated stones were shipped to New Jersey for the ceremony. Led by Pujya Doctor Swami, those consecrated stones, as well as thousands of bricks consecrated by devotees in the onsite Vedic ceremony, were laid in the foundation during the event. The participants prayed that the Mandir may contribute to peace in the individual, family, community and world. In his remarks following the ceremony, Pujya Doctor Swami stressed, "In addition to laying the foundation stones for a mandir, each individual must lay a strong foundation of spirituality in their life to achieve lasting peace and happiness."
As the first two phases of the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex in North America, the Mandir and Prayer Hall are slated for completion in two years. The following phases of the complex will include a Youth Activity Center, a Welcome Center and the Akshardham Mahamandir.
The excitement of the architects, technical consultants, community officials, devotees and volunteers who attended this event was palpable. "It's just a great experience to finally see it come together after four years of planning," said Robbinsville Township Council President, Sheree McGowan. Richard Levesque, Robbinsville Township Council Vice President, was touched by the sense of community that pervaded the event. "The feeling of community, the feeling of family when you walked into the ceremony today was just amazing. That community and family aspect which BAPS brings to our community is second to none. The organizations throughout the Township and throughout Mercer County really appreciate BAPS's commitment to the communities that it is a part of."
It is said that a mandir is a gift to the world. Jeromie Lange, a Principal at Maser Consulting echoed this sentiment. "One of the great things about this organization is that it is not just about the religion or about the specific community, but it is really about people as a whole. So the mandir is not going to just benefit BAPS, or Hindus, but it will truly enrich the lives of all who come here.