By the grace of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and with the blessings of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the foundation stone-laying ceremony (Shilanyas Vidhi) for a Mandir in Melville (Long Island), New York was performed on October 27, 2013 in the presence Pujya Yagnavallabhdas Swami, prominent community leaders and devotees.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj had envisioned a Mandir in Long Island in 1988. After looking at several parcels of land, a property was purchased in 2003. The community surrounding that property had expressed a desire to develop the area into a park. So, working with the community, business and city leaders, BAPS came to an agreement to relocate the proposed temple. Attending the ceremony was like a dream come true for all devotees who had tirelessly and patiently worked all these years.
Pujya Yagnavallabhdas Swami and Swamis performed the foundation stone-laying ceremony marking the auspicious beginning of the construction of the Mandir which houses a prayer hall, assembly hall, gymnasium, and classrooms for children and youth activities. Speaking on the occasion, Pujya Yagnavallabhdas Swami said, “This mandir is not just a house of worship. This mandir will serve as a home for humanitarian, cultural, and spiritual activities that will benefit not just the devotees but all members of the local community. A mandir is not merely built by bricks and stones, but built by a spirit of harmony and community.”
The shilas, or sacred stones, placed in the foundation were sanctified and blessed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Sarangpur, India on September 19, 2013 before being sent to New York. Pramukh Swami Maharaj had blessed those present, "We are engaging in this service to please God. Even our smallest service is considered as a great act of sacrifice by God. We pray that the mandir contributes to the social, spiritual, and cultural landscape of the community.”
The excitement of the community officials, devotees and volunteers who attended this event was palpable. Mr. Frank Petrone, the Supervisor of the Town of Huntington, welcomed the BAPS community to Melville and said, “only the bricks and mortar are left, because the Mandir has already been built more than ten years ago, in the hearts of the BAPS members and the Melville community members.” Also present on the occasion were Council-members Susan A. Berland, Mark Curthbertson, and Mark Mayoka of the Town of Huntington.