Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

A Mandir is a place of paramount peace…to realize God”

– H.H. Pramukh Swami Maharaj

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          I am starting to believe it is in the most barren places that the world creates the most beautiful things. A rainbow sunset that paints the desert sky, a mountain covered in plush green trees, and a Hindu Mandir in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

         Just off the 71 freeway in Chino Hills, California, surrounded by new homes, and industrial buildings there is a temple that houses traditions from one of the oldest religions in the world.

          BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir nearly blends in with the surrounding tan and sand beige buildings. However, what does stand out is its intricacy and the instant beauty it emulates.

          As I walked out into the 90 degree day toward the Mandir, I instantly realized how tranquil it felt. The grounds were oddly silent considering its position right next to the freeway, yet it was noiseless. It was the type of silent that I have felt before around places with great spiritual pull.

          Since it was still morning it was nearly empty, but there were a few men, women, and children moving about from building to building. Some of them wore tradition clothing while others did not.

          I slipped off my sandals and felt the warmth from the sun, not quite burning but enough to make me walk quickly up the steps of the Mandir. As I did so I was drawn in by the delicate carvings that decorated the entirety of the temple. My eyes were filled, and as soon as I focused on one aspect of the architecture my eyes were drawn somewhere else.

          Before entering into the temple I noted the signs requesting the turning off of cell phones and the practice of silence; two things most of us seldom do.

         Once I opened the wood carved doors I understood the importance of those two requests. Inside the temple were more intricate carvings that covered the ceilings, walls, and pillars but in a white marble. The time, energy, and love that was put into this detail would not have been appreciated nearly as much if the presence of phones and conversations were allowed; and for that I was thankful.

          The square shaped room had a series of pillars leading toward the middle where there were multiple Mandir Shrines. Lining both sides of the room were more. Some people stood, others sat, or knelt showing reverence to the sacred images. Some people sat in meditative prayer as the soft backdrop of traditional music played creating an even greater spiritual essence.

         There was an energy present in the Mandir that was undeniable. It was humbling to watch others in their space of worship and to observe the rituals and characteristics that bring THEM closer to God.

          When I felt ready, I explored the interactive exhibit that was held downstairs. The exhibit delved into the meaning of the Mandir and the cultural practices of Hinduism. What resonated with me most was the emphasis placed on love and selflessness.

          Prior to my visit to this Mandir I had little knowledge of India and the cultural or religious practices. I had no idea the richness and vibrancy that is found not only in the architecture, but in the belief systems that hold them together as a people. It is not about exclusivity but being inclusive; that was what struck me the most.

          Walking out of the temple there was an energy surrounding my friend Jordan and I that we didn’t want to break. The feeling was similar to when finishing a mediation or yoga practice. The air is still, your heart and mind are calm, the world feels a little less scary and a little more like an adventure waiting for you to gently create a footprint.

-Em


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Take a Visit:

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir 

15100 Fairfield Ranch Rd.
Chino Hills CA 91709 USA

Phone: (1-909) 614 5000
Fax: (1-909) 614 5050

Check website for more info and hours

 

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