In 2003, a new page was written in the history of BAPS. The devotees of Charlotte, NC wrote a small letter to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj requesting his blessings in their effort to start a satsang sabha in Columbia, SC. With his blessings, the seeds of satsang were planted. Then, through Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s inspiration and the tireless efforts of the devotees, nearly a decade later that seed has grown into a large sapling.
The first blossom of this growth was seen on November 16, 2014 with the inauguration of the murtis in Columbia, SC. The murti pratishta rituals were performed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Sarangpur on September 23, 2014, and these murtis were consecrated in their respective shrines in Columbia by Sadguru Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami amid ancient Vedic rituals and ceremonies a few weeks later.
The Mandir Mahotsav celebrations began on a cool, crisp autumn day on Saturday, November 15th. As per traditional Hindu customs, a shobha yatra, procession of the murtis in colorful and elaborately decorated floats, took place. The evening was brought to life with an enthralling kirtan aradhana, singing of devotional hymns, that had the crowd mesmerized.
On the auspicious day of Sunday, November 16, 2014, Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami arrived and officially opened the mandir to the public with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Later in the day, the actual consecration ceremony began which included a special Mahapuja, vedic ceremony, and the chanting of the Vedic verses where devotees as well as well-wishers offered their prayers for world peace and well-being. Through these various ceremonies, Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami consecrated the murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Aksharbrahman Gunatitanand Swami, Shri Radha-Krishna, Guru Parampara, Shri Shiv-Parvati, Hanumanji and Ganeshji.
The murti sthapan vidhi was followed by an assembly in which many individuals who had offered their services in the mandir project were recognized and appreciated. The honorable Mayor of Columbia, Stephen Benjamin, joined those gathered to show his appreciation of the contribution the mandir will have in the community. After Pujya Tyagvallabh Swami's blessings, the assembly concluded with an energetic dance performed by the youth.
Mandir Mahotsav was successfully celebrated and all those who attended were left inspired. With a growing Hindu community, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Columbia, SC will serve as the hub of spiritual, community, and charity services for BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the Greater Columbia area.