The largest Hindu temple outside of India just opened in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
The Hindu temple, which operates under a denomination of Hinduism known as Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), exists on an impressive 183 acres. Named the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, it is officially the largest Hindu temple outside of Asia.
The temple was inaugurated on October 8. It will be open to the public on Wednesday, October 18. Being the largest Hindu temple in all of North America, it will undoubtedly become an important destination for Hindus and beyond.
BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham is meant to be a place of worship and peace for all. The design features several carvings of American heroes, including Martin Luther King Jr. The materials used in the construction were sourced from numerous places across the globe, and, at its completion, featured over two million cubic feet of stone.
The temple began construction over a decade ago in 2011 and to the date of completion, used over 12,500 volunteers from across the globe. However, this use of volunteers stirred controversy and BAPS—which uses volunteers to build temples throughout the globe—was sued for labor rights violations. The lawsuit stated that forced labor, long hours, discrimination and more were present during construction.
BAPS argued that the construction was not via employment but rather religious volunteer service. A spokesperson for BAPS even stated that artisans were taken care of and many of their financial needs were met, including food, lodging, travel expenses, phone cards and more.
The lawsuit has since been put on hold and 12 of the original 21 plaintiffs threw out their claims.
In any event, BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham is complete, making New Jersey a religiously significant place for over one billion Hindus in the World.
You can keep up to date with what is happening at the temple here.