In the 1970’s a small group of three people began discussing their lack of Hindu places of worship or a Hindu mandir in Atlanta. Soon that small group gained a few members all of whom shared the same desires. Each member contributed $10,000 to achieve their goal of providing a place to worship Hindu teachings for the greater community and future generations. The current location is located on Highway 85. It is called the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir of Atlanta. The current location for the temple was chosen for its unique geographical contours and its close proximity to various highways and other high traffic roads.
The mandir itself was constructed out of hand carved Italian marble, Turkish limestone, and Indian pink sandstone (the Indian pink sandstone was used as the means for constructing the administration building to the right of the first picture shown above). The mandir was constructed using no additional foundational or structural materials other than the limestone and the marble. With this being the case, the hand carved pieces were constructed in such a way that they locked together to hold together the structure. There was a total of approximately ~34,000 separate pieces to construct this truly magnificent structure.
In Hindu temples, each ceiling tile has a separate meaning. The central most tile is of the utmost importance. During the construction of the building, the center piece was the last to be added because it locked the entire construction together upon placement. The pictures below show the truly beautiful and intricately detailed inner temple.
After construction 1.3 million hours’ worth of community service, $19 million, and 17 months from the day the workers broke ground, the Mandir of Atlanta, Georgia was inaugurated in August of 2007. Thousands of people flocked to the inauguration. Since then, the temple has seen over a million visitors over its time.
A common misconception of Hinduism is that it is polytheistic. The faith does worship a variety of idols, but they believe in one God. That monotheistic God exists in all things. Hinduism appears in every plain of the body, the physical, mental and spiritual. The emotions and intensity that one feels upon entering a structure such as this is awe-inspiring. Have the opportunity to witness the ceremonies that occur delay reveal a substantial lesson that can be learned, don’t judge a book by its cover.
The similarities that can be viewed when comparing Hinduism to Christianity is quite interesting. Most notably, how each religion makes use of food. The Hindu faith presents a full meal to the idols with the temple and allow them to, as I understand it, to both consume the essence and bless the food. Christians use food in a different way. We accept an offer from Jesus Christ in the form of his body and blood. This simple use of food is starkly different, but the difference in whom is presenting the food and whom is reserving the food is worthy of note.
The Mandir of Atlanta has brought a unique opportunity to the people of Atlanta. They have created an even more diverse population. The Mandir is located in the Lilburn suburb of Atlanta. It is primarily white community with little diversity. However, the community has begun to see a steady increase in the Indian population. The increasing in diversity helps to cultivate an ethical city by introducing different viewpoints and concerns. New Hindu communities will have a place to worship and have a general congregation place. In such a large city, it is important that people have individual outlets where that can receive more individualized support from a community they identify with. Additionally, the presence of the Mandir in Atlanta will help to make the residents more culturally competent.
“About Us.” Hindu Temple of Atlanta, hindutempleofatlanta.org/pages/about-hta.
“BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – Atlanta – Manidr Info.” BAPS, www.baps.org/Global-Network/North-America/Atlanta/Mandir-Info.aspx.
Desai, Mahadev. “Atlanta Dunia.” BAPS Swaminarayan Mandirs Inauguration Ceremony -Atlanta Dunia –, atlantadunia.com/dunia/News/N295.htm.
Doniger, Wendy, et al. “Hinduism.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Feb. 2019, www.britannica.com/topic/Hinduism.
Lohr, Kathy. “Gleaming Hindu Temple to Open in Atlanta Suburb.” NPR, NPR, 15 Aug. 2007, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12753002.
Wikipedia contributors. “BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 Apr. 2019. Web. 26 Apr. 2019.