The groundbreaking ceremony of the Youth Activity Center at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chicago, IL took place on Sunday, June 16, 2019 in the presence of Pujya Yagnavallabhdas Swami. The mandir has seen many different milestones which have started in the late 1970s and continue on to this day. In 1998, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj conducted the Shila Pujan for the foundation of the Mandir in Westchester, NY. In 2000, HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj inaugurated the Haveli Cultural Complex during which Swamishri expressed his wishes for the youth activity center to be built on the other side of the Mandir to maintain symmetry and to provide the youths with a place to play, learn, and call their own.
The day started with devotees visiting the exhibition which was set up in front of the mandir steps. From here, they collected the mahapuja kit and then seated themselves on the same pad where the future Youth Activity Center would be constructed. The Vedic Mahapuja was led by the Bal Mandal as Pujya Yagnavallabhdas Swami and Pujya Priyasevadas Swami performed the vidhi. Devotees participated in the mahapuja by doing pujan of the shila, or brick, that will be used in the construction of the Youth Activity Center. The youths also showed great fanfare with a grand and enthusiastic procession of Bhagwan Swaminarayan through the middle of the audience.
The Youth Activity Center will be a multifunctional building which will house 26 classrooms and a gymnasium will support cultural, religious, music and other classes for boys and girls. There will also be an exhibition and an elegantly designed sanctum which will house the sacred image of Shri Nilkanth Varni, in the Nilkanthvarni Abhishek Mandap.
After His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s blessings, everyone present got an opportunity to place a brick in the foundation pit before departing.