Swamis, devotees, and well-wishers celebrated the sacred foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Akshardham Mahamandir on 6, 8, and 9 October 2011. The celebration consisted of six sacred Vedic ceremonies - two on each day – marking the start of construction of the Akshardham Mahamandir. The usual green landscape of this site off of U.S. Highway 130 was transformed into a paradise of gleaming colors and captivating sounds. Christine Ciaccio, Robbinsville City Council President, was awed by the site's transformation. "We have come a long way in the last year. The buildings are coming up fast and I can see the love and excitement radiating everywhere. When I speak with the youth, I feel their confidence. The parents love it. The community loves it."
Prior to the ceremony, participants took a tour of the entire complex and then enjoyed a program of bhajans. The shilas, or sacred stones, sanctified on August 31, 2011 by Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Mumbai, India, had been sent to New Jersey for the final ceremony. This commenced on the morning of 6 October, when Pramukh Swami Maharaj led the Shilanyas ceremony from Mumbai, India via live videoconference, as Pujya Mahant Swami, Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami, swamis and devotees performed the rituals in New Jersey. In subsequent sessions over the next several days, devotees enjoyed Swamishri’s performance of the ceremony through playback of the video feed. It was a unique memory for all those present -- an interactive Shilanyas ceremony between the devotees and their guru with a few oceans and a few thousand miles in between!
After the rituals, Pramukh Swami Maharaj expressed his enthusiasm for the project and blessed the assembly, “With such enthusiasm evident in the devotees, the project will be speedily completely without any obstacles. We are pleased to see everyone’s faith and conviction, since despite the hectic pace of life in America, everyone has offered their time and effort for this noble work. Because of your unity, your work is progressing and others are inspired to join with you. We pray that you all become happy, attain strength of spirit and experience peace. May everyone involved in the project as well as all of the future visitors to Akshardham attain peace and liberation.”
The Shilanyas rituals were followed by a spiritual assembly celebrating Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s vision of Akshardham as well as inspirational stories of dedicated volunteers and families.
The organization's sincerity and respect for the community was appreciated by all those who participated and witnessed it. Robbinsville Mayor David Fried remarked, ““What has happened here today is truly amazing. I am excited for all of you. I am excited for the community. It's unique that so many people are willing to volunteer their time and give their energy to make something happen. That is something we really need more of. On behalf of my council and my community, I thank you for choosing our town.”
This significant milestone was achieved through the vision and blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and strong support from the volunteers, neighbors, and town officials of Robbinsville, New Jersey.