BAPS Satsang Activity Center Inaugurated in Robbinsville, NJ
Robbinsville, NJ: Sixteen-year-old Chetna Patel hurried across the parking lot shielding herself from the brisk autumn morning with a plain white sweater covering her vibrant ochre-colored sari. When asked why she was in a rush, she responded saying, “I don’t want to miss a single second of today’s festivities. I have been waiting for this festival for the last four years.” Chetna was not alone. Well-wishers, devotees, and community members from across the region thronged to celebrate the opening of the Satsang Activity Center (SAC), a new home for cultural, social, and religious activities for the Hindu American community in Central Jersey. This once vacant and hardly noticeable plot of land in Robbinsville, NJ has come to life within the last few years. According to one of the Township County Officials, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s conceptualization and creation of the Hindu American Religious Center (HARC) has changed the social and cultural landscape of the entire community.
The opening of the first phase of the center, the Satsang Activity Center, was celebrated over three days of ceremonies and rituals. The new assembly hall will provide a location for many spiritual, cultural, educational, and recreational activities for children, families, and community members. Several families also took part in the special janoi and engagement ceremonies.
Rakesh Patel is an electrical engineer from East Windsor. “Yes, it is true that the SAC boasts a beautiful fusion of traditional art and environmentally friendly or green technology, but the life and breath of this campus is the dedicated volunteer force.” Hundreds of volunteers like Rakesh have offered their professional services towards the completion of the SAC in the spirit of service. Rakesh says that is what makes this complex unique. “People always ask me about resources, how big it is, and when it will be completed. Quite frankly, they are asking the wrong questions. They should be asking how much of the complex was created with the help of volunteers, how these volunteers have showed their dedication, and what it is that motivates them to do so.”
Robbinsville councilperson Sheree McGowan joined the festivities on Friday evening. She was pleased to see the spirit of volunteerism, and noted: “I’ve known about the project since it first came to planning, and to watch it grow has been amazing. And the workmanship is incredible. I’ve always said that regarding the sense of volunteerism and community that you have, I wish that you can give lessons to the rest of the world.”
The SAC was uniquely constructed utilizing a suite of eco-friendly and cost-effective technological advancements including natural lighting techniques, radiant floor heating, and LED lights to help reduce its carbon footprint. The building includes youth classrooms, a gymnasium, and an assembly hall to host the membership’s weekly Satsang or spiritual assemblies.
His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the inspirer and creator, envisioned a medium for the members of the community to grow ecumenically and give back to their localities together. In addition to providing spiritual guidance, the center will transmit traditions to future generations, foster family unity, and inspire brotherhood. It will serve as a center for the organization’s humanitarian initiatives through BAPS Charities.
The completion of the SAC marks the end of the first phase of construction on the HARC complex. The traditional Hindu mandir is expected to be inaugurated in 2013. The mandir, a Hindu house of worship, will be made of white Italian Carrera marble and will be adorned with intricate carvings on the pillars and walls symbolizing different aspects of Hindu tradition and history. After the Mandir, the subsequent phases of the complex will include a Youth Activity Center, a Visitors’ Center and the Akshardham Mahamandir.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a worldwide socio-spiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace, and harmony. Founded on the pillars of practical spirituality, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families, and individuals. Through a number of medical, cultural, educational, environmental, social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow, who have high esteem for their Hindu roots. Its 3,300 centers across the world support these activities of character building. Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community free of addictions and that is morally, ethically and spiritually strong.
About the Inspirer and Creator: Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, has inspired millions of devotees across the world to lead a God-conscious, character-centred life. He emphasizes the importance of family harmony, community service and spiritual progress among others. Representing the essence of Hinduism, his compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity have touched many world religious and national leaders.
Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA
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