For hundreds of volunteers, August 30, 2023, marked a momentous occasion in the building of BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The Kalash, or topmost part of the mandir's pinnacle, was sanctified during the sacred Kalash Pujan. With joyous tears, the volunteers watched as their years of hard work and anticipation culminated in the pinnacle point of the mahamandir by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. Senior swamis joined the auspicious ceremony to sanctify 18 kalashes for the spires of Akshardham.
The kalash is the peak of the shikhar, or spire, which signifies blessings and the pursuit of spiritual immortality. Each kalash stands as a symbol of the amrut-filled kalash. Acting as a divine antenna, the kalash captures the surrounding divinity, enriching the sacred atmosphere of the mandir.
The 'Nidhi Kalash,' which is at the base of Akshardham, was ceremoniously consecrated by Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 2011. Today, the largest 'Amrut Kalash,' was sanctified by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, who performed pujan on the steps of Akshardham. Sadguru Pujya Bhaktipriyadas Swami (Kothari Swami), Sadguru Pujya Tyagvallabhdas Swami, Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami, Pujya Anandswarupdas Swami, Pujya Narayanmunidas Swami, Mahamahopadhyaya Bhadreshdas Swami and other swamis from India and North America, performed the pujan of the other Kalash. Devotional Vedic mantras were chanted as the pujan took place, and volunteers looked on with tears of joy.
In his address, Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami stated, "The kalash is considered significant because upon its placement, the shikhar becomes complete. When it adorns the shikhar, its inherent beauty flourishes, and it fills us with a profound joy. As it takes its rightful place on the mahamandir, it symbolizes the divine culmination of all efforts at Akshardham." He further added, "The unwavering dedication of devotees from North America, who served with deep devotion and faith, has imprinted lasting memories in their hearts. We are extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to do this seva with the grace of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj and the will of Bhagwan Swaminarayan."
Sadguru Pujya Bhaktipriyadas Swami elaborated on this point, stating that "Through the grace of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and Mahant Swami Maharaj, we've been gifted with this divine Akshardham. The work of the volunteers has been blessed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and Mahant Swami Maharaj."
Echoing these sentiments, Sadguru Pujya Tyagvallabhdas Swami remarked, "Any work that we have done here is due to the will of Parabrahma Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami. With their grace, devotees in America had paused their careers or worldly pursuits to fulfill the wish of their guru to build Akshardham. Mahant Swami Maharaj has inspired and strengthened them, and this work has been accomplished with his grace."
This milestone occurred on the auspicious day of Rakshabandhan, a Hindu tradition that celebrates the loving bond of raksha, or protection, between a brother and sister. In a spiritual context, Bhagwan Swaminarayan has granted protection to all of his devotees. Fondly blessing the assembly of volunteers, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj said, "Today is the day of protection (Rakshabandhan). Bhagwan Swaminarayan himself has given us protection. Maharaj has done everything and given great protection. Now that you have sought liberation, there is no greater form of protection. There is no doubt you have sacrificed and done service physically, mentally, and financially."
The Kalash Pujan ceremony was held during the Festival of Inspirations, a three-month long celebration of the timeless values that BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham will inspire for generations to come. Akshardham will stand as a testament to the preservation of ancient Hindu traditions, and a bridge between these age-old Indian values in a modern world.