His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj cultivated a vision to revive Hindu values and culture in the Southeast during his 1977 visit to Spartanburg, South Carolina. Swamis in the Southeast have since frequented the area to expand cultural, social and religious activities in the Hindu-American community. The culmination of this vision was achieved on Sunday August 28, 2022, with the inauguration of a new BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Florence, South Carolina, in the presence of Pujya Yagnavallabhdas Swami and other respected swamis.
The history of this mandir dates to 2002. Harishbhai Patel, an engineer by profession and a devotee from Lumberton, NC, reflects on his memories from the early 2000s, "I remember driving down from Lumberton every month for monthly assemblies. Only four of us gathered in the small living room of a well-wisher's home. We would discuss basic Hindu principles and inspiring incidents from the life of our Guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and how to implement these lessons into our lives."
When asked about establishing a mandir in Florence, Jitubhai Patel, a self-built businessman and the lead coordinator for the mandir, shares, "Even in 2002, we openly discussed our dreams of building a mandir here. At that time, the closest mandir was in Matthews, NC – a 2-hour car ride. Today, our dreams have come true."
Jitubhai Patel, speaks about the inspiration he received from Pramukh Swami Maharaj, "In 2004, I met with Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Chicago, IL. He gave me blessings to live a service-focused life of 'seva' and establish a mandir in Florence to foster the Hindu ideals of faith and unity."
It was from then onwards that regular BAPS activities were carried out with further enthusiasm and determination. On February 2, 2019, to fulfill the wish of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, performed the consecration rituals
of the murtis in Mehalav, India.
The inauguration ceremony consisted of Hindu Vedic prayers for world peace, followed by the consecration ceremony, which Pujya Yagnavallabhdas Swami and other Pujya Swamis performed at the behest of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. The ceremony signaled the mandir as a home of God open to all. A Women's Conference was also organized that afternoon followed by a Kirtan Bhakti program (singing of devotional songs) was performed by the BAPS Swamis and youths in the evening. Devotees, community leaders, friends, and well-wishers from across the southeastern United States participated in the ceremony in person and virtually.
Florence Mayor Pro Tempore/At-Large George D. Jebaily addressed the assembly on Sunday, "I really love the principles of BAPS so much. Your blend of spirituality and social service is second to none. I am glad that we will see a huge rise in our community of your people as well as of your wonderful teachings."
This Hindu place of worship was inaugurated after tireless efforts by dedicated volunteers. The mandir was constructed utilizing eco-friendly and cost-effective technological advancements, including natural lighting techniques and LED lights to help reduce its carbon footprint.