Shri Akshar Purushotam Swaminarayan

This profile was last updated in 2006

Activities and Schedule

This community meets together as a temple every Sunday from 4:30-7:30. Members are welcome to come to the temple any time of the week for prayer and aarti. On Sundays the children of the temple have Sunday school to learn about their culture, traditions, and religion. The weekly activities depend mostly on the Hindu calendar and what time of the year it is.

History

HDH Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj founded the Hindu temple. The main reason for the construction of the temple was to provide the overwhelming number of Gujurati Hindus in the community with a place to worship. They needed a place where they could teach their children all about their traditions and unique culture. Because the Gujurati community had grown so large, there was no longer enough room for them to worship in the Hindu Center. They were also too large to hold meetings in local homes. Thus they began efforts to construct their own center.

In the beginning, the community faced zoning problems and prejudice from residents in the community. The residents thought that having a Hindu temple in their community would cause disturbances. But the youth of the temple were determined to have the temple built. They went door to door asking residents to sign a petition. Finally, the community agreed to approve the building of the temple. Many members of the community participated in the temples’ construction, and the youth helped to paint and decorate it.

Demographics

There are mainly Hari and Vishnu worshippers at the temple. They are natives of Gujurat, India. Gujurati is the language spoken at the temple. All age groups are represented.

Description

The temple layout includes a main shrine room. Inside the room are large portraits of various saints and shrines of Shree Radha Krishna. On the sides of the main room are two hallways. One is just for males; the other is just for females. On each side of the hallways are classrooms for the youth. On the outside is a playground for the children. There is also a bookstore and a large cafeteria with adequate facilities for cooking and catering to the whole community.

Activities and Schedule

On Sundays the children of the temple have Sunday school to learn about their culture, traditions, and religion. The children of the temple are organized into groups according to their ages. Elementary school age children belong to the Balak Mandals group. They meet from 3-4:30 PM. The high school students belong to the Kishore Mandal group and the college students belong to the Yuva manda. The girls and boys are taught separately in different classrooms on opposite sides of the shrine area. After the children finish with class, aarti service begins and then concludes with dinner. The community hosts annual conventions and workshops, festivals and celebrations. They perform Vedic rituals and celebrations.

Food

Food is served every Sunday at 7 P.M. in the cafeteria. The women in the community do all of the cooking by rotation. Teenagers have the opportunity to cook with assistance once a month. The seating arrangement in the cafeteria is done by a set tradition. The men sit on the right side of the cafeteria and the women sit on the left. The food that is mainly served is Puri (bread), curry, rice, sambhar, and a variety of sweets for dessert. According to this community, their diet should consist of all vegetables. They do not eat garlic and onions. They believe that garlic and onions make one’s temper bad.

Links

Women and Youth in the BAPS Community
The Hindu New Year: Food and Meaning in Ankot and Diwali

Research by:

Ashante Thompson and Manjula Warad