After 3-years of unflinching dedication and thousands of hours of volunteer work, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, in Edison, New Jersey stood glistening under the sun as the much anticipated Mandir Mahotsav began on the morning of August 10, 2019. The nine-day celebration began with the grand Vishwashanti Maha Yagna, which span through the weekend in 4 sessions. Attendees of the yagna performed traditional, Vedic rituals led by Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami, senior Swamis from India and North America and learned brahmins to pray for world peace on the occasion of the opening of the Mandir.
The festivities continued on Friday, August 16 with the Nagar Yatra, a colorful procession parading the sacred images of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, the Guru Parampara and Hindu deities in 6 beautifully crafted floats. The procession started at Middlesex County College, the historic grounds that hosted the Cultural Festival of India in 1991. Young and old alike were dressed in traditional Indian attire and lined up to walk or dance in the procession. The Nagar yatra allowed the city and its inhabitants to receive the deities’ blessings. The procession ended in front of the new Mandir in the presence of Pujya Sadguru Swamis. Later that evening, a Kirtan Aradhana was performed by BAPS Swamis.
The celebrations continued with the highlight event of the weekend, Murti Pratishtha ritual. On August 17-18, Sadguru Pujya Doctor Swami (Pujya Swayamprakashdas Swami) and Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami performed the consecration ceremony in accordance with Hindu Vedic rituals to infuse divinity into the sacred murtis inside the Mandir in the presence of devotees and well-wishers from across North America. For devotees witnessing this occasion, this marked the moment that the Mandir indeed became a place where Bhagwan resides.
The historic moment was inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s vision that a new mandir be built to accommodate the growing BAPS community in Edison, NJ. Pramukh Swami Maharaj inaugurated the first mandir after the Cultural Festival of India in 1991. In 2007, he gave blessings for a larger mandir to accommodate the growing community.
On the evening of August 17, the festivities continued with a cultural program entitled “Mandiram: The Musical” that showcased our traditional Hindu culture and heritage, presented through an intricate light and sound show, various dramatic oratory and dance performances.
The mandir mahotsav also included a women’s cultural program entitled “Divya Mandirne Vandana” on the afternoon of August 18. They gathered with others in the community with the goal of fostering increased communication and interfaith harmony. Various programs including folk dances and dramas by youth and women of all ages contributed to the lively atmosphere.
Through the blessings of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the Mandir has been graced with the Murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami, Shri Ghanshyam Maharaj, Shri Nilkanth Varni, Shri Radha-Krishna, Shri Sita-Ram, Shri Shiv-Parvati, Shri Hanumanji, and Shri Ganeshji.
The inauguration of the mandir is a dream come true for thousands of devotees. More than 100,000 hours were put in by volunteers for the timely completion of the construction. The new BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Edison, NJ will serve as a spiritual and cultural home, as well as a community center for charitable services such as health fairs, blood donation drives, and walkathons benefitting the local community. The Mandir will also facilitate youth activities so that future generations can be anchored in their faith and spirituality and continue to strive and grow as good citizens while retaining valuable traditions and culture.