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South African temple marks first anniversary

Swaminarayan Mandir, a major tourist attraction, celebrated its first anniversary with all pomp and show.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2005 12:31 IST

Saints and devotees from all over the country and abroad descended here to mark one year of the Swaminarayan Mandir, which has become a major tourist attraction because of its spectacular design.

The occasion was celebrated with a series of discourses and special prayer sessions.

Bharatbhai Parbhoo, secretary of the temple, said it has become a major community gathering centre with regular services throughout the week.

He also lauded the youth who participated with fervour in the activities of the temple, which also runs two strictly vegetarian restaurants as a means of raising funds for self-sufficiency.

Two young devotees - South African Mahesh Naik, working in the diamond industry, and Fulesh Bilakhia, a textile importer settled here - both aged 32, shared similar sentiments about the role that the temple plays in their lives.

"It helps keep our younger people away from the scourge of drugs and other ills on the streets and provides an outlet for them to use their energies to benefit others as well," said Naik.

"I am very happy that even being away from India, there is a facility like this where my family and I can exercise the kind of spiritual needs that we have, and also assist others while learning at the same time," said Bilakhia.

Visiting saint Pujyayug Drashthadas from the Kenyan chapter of the Swaminarayan organisation said the activities and functions hosted by the Lenasia temple were very impressive and augured well for the community service that was an essential part of the doctrines espoused by their spiritual head.

First Published: Sep 23, 2005 12:31 IST