Akshardham New Jersey: A monument to Hindu spirituality and global unity opens its doors

By Pulin
BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham // Photo supplied by Akshardham New Jersey

In a profound moment that marked the confluence of spirituality, culture, and architecture, the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, New Jersey, was inaugurated on 8 October 2023. The event was a monumental occasion for Hindu Americans, attracting volunteers, dignitaries, and well-wishers who gathered in a shared spirit of reverence and community.

The spiritual sanctuary, 12 years in the making, stands as a testament to the love and devotion of 12,500 volunteers from around the world. His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS, led the inaugural ceremony, blessing the central murti (sacred image) of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the Akshardham Mahamandir. In a heartfelt message, Mahant Swami Maharaj spoke of the eternal bliss and happiness that he hopes will fill the lives of all who visit the sacred space. He also expressed his wish that the Akshar Purushottam philosophy and the values of Sanatan Dharma be celebrated and understood by the global community.

Initially envisioned by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Akshardham aims to serve as a beacon of peace, inspiration, and unity. The complex is much more than a place of worship; it’s a hub for religious practice, cultural expression, art and architecture, and education. Built to last over a millennium, the mandir draws from ancient Hindu architectural principles and incorporates materials from around the globe, including Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, and India. Master artisans meticulously hand-carved each stone in India before it was assembled in Robbinsville by volunteers.

Among the attendees at the opening ceremony was Megha Rao, founder and designer at holiCHIC by Megha, who said, “Today, I met so many women who gave me a new understanding of what strength and power really means. They’re here to make a difference, to inspire generations to come.”

Robbinsville Mayor David Fried spoke of the transformative impact that Akshardham has had on the community. “This piece of land has been turned into something that is truly unbelievable and one of the wonders of the world,” he said, emphasizing the mandir’s importance to the community and even calling it a “wonder of the world.”

In the lead-up to its grand opening, Akshardham had already begun its service to the community through several outreach programmes. The Days of Giving initiative amassed over 12,000 donations in the form of school supplies, hygiene essentials, and food items, and an extensive 10-week blood drive potentially saved over 10,000 lives.

The mandir is not just a centre for Hindu Americans but invites people of all backgrounds to experience Indian culture and traditions. Future plans include a museum with interactive exhibits that will explain Hinduism’s history, its core teachings, and its universal values.

In a time when the world seems increasingly divided, Akshardham stands as a symbol of what can be achieved when people come together in the spirit of unity, faith, and service. It offers not just a sanctuary for worship, but a space that embodies universal values and a common humanity. As Mahant Swami Maharaj noted, while the physical structure of Akshardham is complete, the ongoing task is for individuals to internalise the values it represents. In doing so, the Akshardham temple promises to serve as a lasting monument to the power of collective action, and the enduring grace of spiritual devotion.

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