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The new Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) temple and cultural complex in Milpitas will be inaugurated during a five-day festival from September 4-8. Pramukh Swami Maharaj, under whose guidance BAPS has thrived in the Bay Area, will preside over the inauguration of the new temple and cultural complex.

BAPS is a global socio-spiritual Hindu organization with over 3,300 centers worldwide and over 55,000 volunteers who help carry out a host of spiritual, cultural and social service activities.

The Milpitas chapter was established in 1991. The first temple had half a dozen classrooms constructed to provide young children the opportunity to learn new skills, develop the spirit of service and teamwork, and connect with their heritage.

With 19 classrooms, the new complex will expand its current range of children’s and youth activities, which include classes in music, language, arts and cooking. Young adults who used to learn in the old temple as children are now mentors and teachers of the newer generation. They will work with parent volunteers to ensure that children thrive culturally, spiritually, and socially in an atmosphere that is both friendly and conducive to learning.

BAPS has a rich heritage of celebrating major Hindu festivals, such as Janmashtami, Shivaratri, Ramnavmi and Divali. These are done through inspirational discourses and speeches, devotional music and skits.

The new complex will have a stage that is over 3,100 square feet and situated in a dedicated cultural hall. This should lend itself to more creativity in producing stage performances. Whether the setting is a village in India, or a suburb in the West, or even the Himalayas, the detail and scale of the stage scenery and visuals will only be limited by the imagination of the stage decoration team.

The complex will also house a dedicated mandir with hand carved murtis of Sita Ram, Radha Krishna, Shiva Parvati, Akshar Purushottam and the BAPS succession of gurus.

Being a socio-spiritual organization, BAPS is centered on service in our world. The time and dedication of volunteer doctors, college students, young professionals and parents have enabled the following activities to be carried out throughout the years: health fairs, walkathons, parent awareness forums, career guidance sessions and educational awareness and tutoring.

The five-day inaugural festival is free to the public and will include an exhibition on Hinduism, devotional musical performances by some of the most talented BAPS saints, dances and skits by children and youth, as well as a grand ritual of Vishwashanti Mahayagna, or prayers for world peace.

During the course of the event, mahaprasad will be served everyday and will include, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The focal point of the festival will be the Murti Pratishta, or idol installation ceremony, performed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj on September 8.

The festival will also be used to launch a blood drive; mobile vans at the new complex for those who wish to donate blood. —Ajay Patel

September 4-8, BAPS Complex, 1430 California Circle, Milpitas, Calif. 408-262-0707