Devotees gathered at the future site of the BAPS Shree Swaminarayan Mandir and Cultural Center in Chino Hills to celebrate the auspicious groundbreaking ceremony. Saints and devotees in accordance with ancient traditions performed the highly anticipated groundbreaking ceremony, or khaat vidhi, on the morning of Sunday, September 4, 2005. The historic ceremony began with the mahapuja ceremony amidst the chanting of vedic shlokas. Thereafter, each yajman had the unique opportunity to participate in the auspicious stone-laying ceremony.

In addition, the Mayor of Chino Hills and council members participated in the western tradition of the ceremony by breaking ground with the symbolic use of shovels. Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj offered his divine blessings over the telephone for the successful completion of the cultural center. P. Yagnavallabh Swami delivered an enlightening speech on the benefits of the new mandir and cultural center for preserving spirituality in our modern day society.

The youth wing, fully dressed in vibrant costumes, performed a traditional folk dance that energized all on this joyous occasion. Guided tours were provided for visitors to view the actual sites of the buildings to be built. A colorful exhibition allowed visitors and guests to experience a glimpse of India, Hindu culture, and traditions through translite screens, dioramas, plasma screens, and other multimedia presentations.

Amongst the city officials were numerous other supporters and well-wishers including Nabih Youssef, a world renowned structural engineer; Judge Jim Gray, Orange County Superior Court Judge; and Vyomesh Joshi, Executive Vice President of Hewlett-Packard and Director of Yahoo.

The two-day festivities began on Saturday, September 3rd, with a free medical camp in which numerous health care professionals provided free consultation and screenings to community members.

Saturdays' evening program featured a kirtan aradhana, where devotional hymns were accompanied by classical Indian instruments such as the sitar, tabla, and harmonium. The ceremony concluded with saints conducting a special prayer for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

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