Center Profile

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (2006)

(Hinduism)

Websites:


Description

History

The BAPS (Bochanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Sanstha) Swaminarayan temple in Milpitas, California, was founded by a very small group of BAPS devotees, during the early nineties. The primary motivation behind the establishment of this temple was to establish a 'place of their own' where activities as prescribed by their religious text Shikshapatri could be conducted. The key motivator was Mr. Shantilal Patel, an immigrant from Kenya and a resident of the United States since 1985. He along with several other devotees with the blessings of their present spiritual leader Swamishree Pramukh Maharaj, searched for an appropriate location and built form. The search lasted for over three years from 1988-1991. Finally in 1991, the entire office building was purchased from Overseas Crusades Ministries, Inc. Initially, this community shared the temple space with a church group, who leased a part of the temple space on a month to month basis. In 1994, this church group was requested to move out and the temple underwent major spatial modifications, as seen today. The funding for this temple came from their main temple headquarters, then located in New York.

Description

The architectural character of the temple blends in with the surrounding area. Described as a two story structure with a tilt-up concrete textured coating, concrete shape tile roof, and a wooden trellis around all sides of the building, the temple identity is manifested within the temple signage board located near the entrance of the parking lot. Today, the first floor consists of the sacred worship space,the priests quarters, the kitchen and dining facilities. The second floor includes cultural space, library and various rooms where in the kids activities take place.

Activities and Schedule

The temple is open to the public during weekdays from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the evening. During the weekends the temple is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The primary activity taking place, during weekdays is the puja/aarti at 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. During the weekdays individuals or families with smaller children come to pay their respect on a regular basis. Sunday represents a family day for this community. Known as the Ravi Sabha , Ravi meaning Sunday and Sabha meaning gathering, the majority of the activities are scheduled on this day.

A brief Overview of the Sunday activities

The main satsang sabha or the Ravi Sabha is held from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Within this time frame, religious discourses, prayer chanting and singing, along with activities for kids and adults are performed. The activities such as teaching the Gujarati language or social values are conducted separately for women and men and further divided according to age. For example, to organize the various activities the following age groups have been created: - A bal/balika sabha (4-14 years), Kishore (boy) Sabha (15 to 21 years); (22 to 24 years); Yuvak Sabha (25 to 35 years). For more details please refer to the temple website. Starting at 12 p.m. with the Kishore Sabha (boys within the age group of 15-21 years) and ending with dinner, (also known as the Mahaprasad, which is freshly prepared by the temple devotees) different activities for different age groups function within the different temple spaces. At the end of this session, regular announcements concerning the temple activities are made. Depending on attendance, the cultural space located on the second floor is also utilized by devotees for religious activities. Today, visual and audio technologies have been adopted to optimize the available space and to enable devotes to participate in the cultural and religious activities. The temple acts as a forum, not only for religious activities to take place, but also as a place where the social and cultural practices can manifest.

Major Festivals

The temple celebrates major festivals which are based on their faith and their devotion to their present guru Swami Pramukh Maharaj. For example the temple community celebrates Dec 7 - the birthday of their guru. As part of the medical services project, the temple organizes two medical camps (free to all) and blood donation camp with Stanford and the Red Cross.

Date Center Founded
1991

Religious Leader and Title
Their present spiritual leader is 'Swami Pramukh Maharaj' who is primarily situated in India

Membership
Presently, the community size that attends regularly ranges between 350- 500 over the weekend. During the weekday there is a steady stream of people coming and going to worship.