State's First Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Hindu Temple Opens in Memphis

July 2, 2006


On July 2, 2006 reported, "Hundreds of candles flickered in the dim room as sadhus -- Hindu priests -- melodically chanted for God to deliver patrons from darkness into light. Once the aarti, or ceremony, was complete, the once-vacant building in Parkway Village officially became a temple Saturday. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the first temple in Tennessee opened by Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), an international Hindu organization. 'I think we are very lucky,' said Champa Patel, a worshiper who attended the opening. 'We've been waiting for this temple for a very long time.' The temple at 4790 American Way is the second Hindu temple in the Memphis area, said Niral Patel, a volunteer at the temple. The other, India Cultural Center and Temple, is in Eads. The temple on American Way will help cater to a growing local Hindu population, estimated at more than 5,000. Champa Patel said Eads temple has mainly south-Indian members while this temple mainly hosts members from Gujarat -- a west-Indian state. Similar to the difference between white and black Protestant churches, the two temples are separated more by culture than actual belief systems, said Niral Patel. But differences are not the focus of this celebration. This is a celebration of community... 'This temple is not just a place of worship,' [Chaitanyamurti Swami, a sadhu] said. 'It is a place to serve the community.' BAPS has six nonprofit medical clinics in major cities across America and awards over 5,000 scholarships annually to students. Swami said this temple will host blood drives, seminars on addiction, family values conferences and other activities to enrich the community. 'These people are from India, but they serve the American community,' he said."