Center Profile

Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Temple (BAPS) (2006)

(Hinduism)

Websites:


Description

Affiliation

This temple is part of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Sanstha, based in Gujarat, India. It is one of three BAPS temples in NJ, the other two being North Bergen and Clifton. The BAPS international board consists of 21 people, the US National board has seven members, and there are five regional boards in the US, each with 5 members. The temples act as regional centers. The regional executive committee oversees all temple/centers within its region. Each center has a temple board consisting of an administrator, coordinator, public relations, physical plant, parking, and security. Pramukh Swami, the group’s spiritual leader, makes all appointments to all positions within the organization.

History

The first BAPS temple in the US was at 4338 Bowne Street, Flushing Queeens. Most Swaminaryan Hindus in the tri-state area went to the Flushing temple until 1991, when Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the group’s spiritual leader, inspired the group to hold the first Cultural of India festival. After a proposed site in NY fell through, the venue chosen for the festival was the campus of Middlesex County College, in Edison NJ. The festival necessitated a staging area, so BAPS bought an old warehouse (of the toy company, “Model Rectifier, Inc.”) in the area of the college; the space would facilitate the set up, construction, and assembly of the several props and temporary structures to be used, and would also serve as storage for the collection of supplies. Pramukh Swami then suggested setting up a small shrine in the corner of the warehouse. Immediately after the festival, renovation began on the warehouse. The entire inside of the building was refurbished, and a decorative façade, consisting of materials from Bahrain and India, was attached to the outside of the building. All this work was completed in 1996.

Religious Leaders

Mr. Nanu Patel, the first priest of the temple, was appointed by Pramukh Swami in 1991. He served until 1993; he was replaced by Mr. Dhiru Desai. Mr. Desai served until 1996; Mr. Dave has served as head priest since 1996. There is a training center for priests in Sarangpur, Gujarat. Men train there from 6 to 12 months, depending on the extent of their knowledge when they enter. They must be married and at least 30 years old. They earn this opportunity by referral, a proven record of involvement in the organization, and the requisite skills and commitment.

Religious Leader and Title
Ashok Dave, Head Priest

Lay Leader and Title
Kanu Patel, Vice President of BAPS, USA
Praful Raja, Temple administrator
Arvind Patel, Center coordinator

Membership
150 families; two mailings a year, in Oct./Nov. (Indian New Year) and April (Swaminarayan’s Birthday), to 1000 families

Ethnic Composition
95% Gujarati and 5% Punjabi