Los Angeles, California will have its own Swaminarayanan Temple, with a difference. The temple will replace what has been an 80-year old church. The church was acquired by the Swaminarayan Maninagar Gaadi Sansthan for $1.3 million last year. The endeavour, undertaken by the Gujarati community will witness the consecration ceremony on 22 July.
This has not been the solitary venture of the SMGS. In the past, the Swaminarayanan Trust has acquired 5 run down churches in the US, UK and Canada. The recent purchase made by them was the acquisition of a 121-year-old heritage church building in Toronto, Canada for a sum of $1.6 million. Even though the structure will be converted to a temple-ashram, the SMGS in all its magnanimity will retain carvings and glass paintings estimated to be of grater heritage value.
“The idol installation at the California temple will take place in the inspiring presence of Gaadipati Purshottam Pridasji Maharaj,” said Bhagwati Priyadasji of SMGS. Priyadasji also states that in recent times, a 40-yearold church spread over 3 acres in Dalas, Texas, was acquired for $700,000 last month. The trend, according to him started in the UK in 1982, with St Ninian’s Church purchased for 200,000 pounds, with a temple constructed on the 2.5 acre compound.
In 1998, when a 70-year-old Bolton church was purchased and converted into a temple, the glass paintings bearing images of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary were retained. “People from different faiths visit this temple,” states Mahesh Varsani, trustee of Swaminarayan Temple Trust, UK.
Gujaratis form the largest immigrant communities of the world, with the swelling number of Swaminarayan temples dotted all over the world being a testimony to their financial influence in the global scenario. As an updated status, there are 12 temples under the SMGS trustee abroad.