It was a vision years in the making. Brought about after months of preparation and planning, practice, and countless prayers, the long awaited inauguration of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey kicked off by a grand Shobha Yatra or procession of chariots on Friday, August 8, 2014.
This type of celebration originated in the pilgrimage city of Jagannath Puri in Orissa, where every year, devotees lovingly pulled colorful chariots with murtis seated atop in a procession through the streets.
During this celebration, devotees prayed to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, asking Him to guide the chariots of their worldly lives across the ocean-like samsara, or cycle of birth and death. In the presence of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, thousands of devotees, Swamis and special guests from across the Northeast United States showcased their multitude of talents in the Robbinsville Shobha Yatra on the grounds of the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex.
Dancers, walkers, a drill team and the BAPS Akshar Dhwani marching band accompanied four floats displaying the murtis of Akshar Purushottam, Radha Krishna, Ram Sita and Hanumanji, Ghanshyam Maharaj, Harikrishna Maharaj, Shiv Parvati and Ganapati, and the Guru Parampara in a coordinated manner for approximately one mile over the course of one and a half hours.
The path was outlined with spectators of all ages as they watched the procession make its way through the Mandir campus.