Faithful Hindus are flocking to a newly-dedicated temple in New Jersey to see God face to face.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville is now the home of 15 sacred statues — called murtis — and their presence is already drawing up to 1,000 visitors every weekend.
“This is now a living, breathing house of God,” BAPS spokesperson Lenin Joshi told The News. “This is not just another building which is made beautiful by people.”
But the beauty is hard to miss. The stunning $18 million structure is only the sixth traditional BAPS mandir in North America that is made entirely out of stone. The intricately carved temple features 98 pillars and two large domes made from Italian marble, encased in a larger building to protect it from the Northeast’s volatile weather. Nearly every foot of the temple is decorated, from the mosaic stone floors to a ceiling carved with lotus flowers. There are 44 representations of the elephant god Ganesh in the building and 236 images of peacocks.
The temple opened with a murti pratishta ritual on Aug. 10, a ceremony that invited the spirit of the deities into the sacred statues. In the weeks since the inauguration, Joshi said he’s seen between 700 and 1,000 visitors come to receive blessings.
Dedicated to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, the structure was constructed with the help of thousands of volunteers who helped piece the sections of the mandir together over three long years.
The Robbinsville center is set to offer Indian music, dance, and language classes, along with religious instruction during the weekends.
“The whole community came together to build this temple,” said Joshi. “It’s made out of a labor of love.”