Largest Hindu temple outside Asia opens in US

Akshardham in New Jersey inaugurated after 12-year construction project

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The largest Hindu temple outside Asia has been inaugurated in the US after a 12-year construction process.

The temple in Robbinsville, New Jersey, is the third Akshardham that the religious organisation Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha has built. The other two are in New Delhi and Gujarat.

Baps spiritual leader Mahant Swami Maharaj expressed his hope for “eternal bliss” and “eternal happiness” after the rituals on Sunday, officials said.

The New Jersey Akshardham was built using about 57,000 cubic metres of stone sourced from countries including India, Turkey and Bulgaria.

The 74-hectare campus includes 10,000 statues depicting ancient Indian musical instruments and dance forms.

Carvings of US historical figures including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr were also carved into the temple walls.

The plaza features the image of Nilkanth Varni, Bhagwan Swaminarayan, which the temple's campus is dedicated to.

The organisation said the Akshardham would be a place for Hindu Americans to deepen their faith. It invited those outside the faith to experience Hindu and Indian culture.

Baps said the temple was built by 12,500 volunteers.

It dealt with a lawsuit in 2021, in which it was accused of exploiting hundreds of low-caste workers during construction.

The majority of the workers were Dalit, who were brought into the US on religious visas and presented as volunteers, The New York Times reported.

Prosecutors said the workers toiled for about 13 hours a day in work that involved lifting large stones and other hard labour tasks.

The lawsuit has since been put on hold after some of the original plaintiffs motioned to dismiss their claims.

The temple will be open to the public from October 18.

Updated: October 09, 2023, 8:02 PM