Compiled by Team IAnD
Photography: Courtesy BAPS
The sixth traditional BAPS mandir (temple) of its kind in North America, the new Shri Swami Narayan mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey opened its doors to the community at large on August 10, 2014.
This Mandir stands as a testament to the spirit of service, devotion to God and spiritual journeys of all those, who have spent thousands of volunteer hours and expertise in its construction and will serve as a serene abode, a selfless service, emphasizing the importance of family harmony, community service and spiritual progress to the multitude.
Marking the completion of the second phase of the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex that is currently planned for the site in Robbinsville, and due to be complete by 2017, the mandir is 133 feet long, 87 feet wide and 42 feet high, comprising 98 pillars and two ghummats (domes), each 30 feet wide and 34 feet high. Made entirely of Italian Carrara marble, it has taken 36 months and $18 million to complete it.
The entire mandir has been covered by a permanent structure to increase the structure’s life and accommodate darshan and worship during the region’s harsh winter. Symbolic of the rich traditions it will carry forward, the mandir is a modern architectural marvel built in accordance with guidelines from ancient Hindu scriptures. Master craftsmen in India first meticulously carved each portion of Italian marble. As the individual portions were completed, they were brought to Robbinsville to be pieced together like a giant puzzle to cover every inch of the structure. The completed masterpiece showcases intricate designs that depict meaningful stories about heroism, sacrifice, and devotion.
Indian temple architecture follows set standards and is seeped in centuries-old religious necessities and tradition. The only freedom that is enjoyed by the architect and sculptors is in the embellishing the prescribed underlying principles and formulae. This is perhaps the reason why Indian temple architecture shows an unsurpassed and unparalleled wealth of sculptural forms and decorative exuberance.
This temple too, like the multitude in India, follows the Nagara or Nãgarãdi style of architecture (origin 5th century), characterised by layer-upon-layer of architectural elements. The plan is generally based on a square grid, but the walls spread in such a way that the composition often looks circular. Here also, we find 66 peacock-style arches, 10 breathtakingly carved wall murals, about three dozen decorative grills and 58 decorative ceilings that simply leave you transfixed, marvelling at the skill of the artisans. Also noteworthy are the series – of 91 elephants and 44 Ganesh murtis, portrayed with various musical instruments offering devotion to Bhagwan. However, its shikhar or traditional temple tower is that of the Fãsnãkãr type and not as generally observed in the Nagara style of north-Indian temple architecture.
Just as all Swaminarayan mandirs, world over, here is another that will not only be a place of worship, but a place of service. The saying, ‘in the joy of others, lies our own’ is translated here from words into action.