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Hindu Temple Ready for Worship in Boynton Beach

Hindu community celebrates one-year anniversary of Boynton temple

By Nicole Sterghos Brochu
Staff Writer

June 24, 2002

BOYNTON BEACH+ For years they gathered in one another's homes to pray and celebrated in rented halls, aware of only a small group of worshipers like themselves and wishing they had a formal temple.

On Sunday, a year after their prayers were answered with the opening of a 9,500-square-foot temple on Southeast 18th Avenue, the followers of the ever-expanding Hindu sect Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan, or BAPS, met once again to give thanks for the blessings the temple has bestowed on them.

Not only has it allowed the sect members to gather as a family to pray, meet and guide their children in the moral teachings of their religion, it has brought hundreds of BAPS followers from across South Florida together in a communion of spirit and servitude.

"It brings the community together because everyone has a common goal, and that's inner peace," said Aashika Patel, 15, whose family travels from Coral Springs to attend services and meetings. "A lot of kids pray here, too. It's good because it keeps kids focused on things that are more beneficial to them than meeting at the mall or going to movies or things that corrupt the mind."

At Sunday's special gathering -- held to celebrate the first anniversary of the temple's opening -- more than 250 worshipers slipped off their shoes, took their places on the floor, chanted spiritual hymns and used a tray filled with flower petals, holy ink powder and other designated items to offer their prayers.

At the end of the one-hour ceremony, platters of curried vegetables, dried nuts and fried pastries filled the altar. The food, presented to the idols as a holy offering, would be shared by the worshipers at another festive celebration Sunday night.

The event was so special -- it was graced by the actual presence of three living saints -- that Nirmal Patel decided to immediately celebrate his engagement to his girlfriend. Originally planning the engagement for December, Patel -- who is not related to Aashika Patel -- said he moved up the date at the direction of one of the saints.

"When they say something, we do it," said Patel, 23, a Motorola software developer from Boca Raton, recognizing another special benefit. "If they bless us today, our married life will be very special."

Nicole Sterghos Brochu can be reached at nbrochu@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6603.

Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Copyright © 2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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