Friday, 11 April 2003
14 select students accompanied by the Principal and Teachers from Terry High School participated in a tour of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Mandir, as part of their advance placement history class. The tour of the mandir, a holy name for temple, helped educate the students on the various facets of Hinduism.
The students arrived at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir and were escorted to the inner sanctum of the mandir by Shri Vikram Patel and Shri Shashi Upadhyaya. Here the students had the opportunity to have darshan of the murtis and understand the Hindu mode of worship. They were also shown a model of the new traditional stone mandir, which is currently being built on the land adjacent to the present one. The students were excited to learn that the new mandir to be built entirely out of marble and limestone and inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, will be a first of its kind not only in the Untied States but also in the entire Western Hemisphere.
The group was then introduced to Pujya Jnanpurush Swami who explained the basic tenets of Hinduism and its historical splendor. He described several characteristics of the world's oldest religion including non-violence, tolerance, vegetarianism, brahmacharya (celibacy), and reincarnation. They were then shown a video on the making of Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London. The students were thrilled to learn that the new mandir in Stafford is being built on the lines of Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London, which is recognized as a marvel of the world and holds the Guinness Book Of World Records distinction as being the largest traditional Hindu Mandir outside of India. There was an air of excitement all around as the group was led to the construction site of the new mandir. Here Shri Jagdish Patel, a BAPS volunteer who oversees the construction, explained to the students how the marble and limestone rocks are excavated from Italy and Turkey respectively and then shipped to India where they are meticulously carved by hand, and shipped to the United States. On hearing this one of the students exclaimed, "Wow! So, you are putting it together like a gigantic 3-D jigsaw puzzle".
At the conclusion of the tour the students were treated to traditional Indian snacks. After spending two hours listening and learning the students departed with a newfound understanding of Hinduism and were invited to return upon the final completion of the mandir in the summer of 2004.