BAPS Satsang was established in Africa in 1927 due to the inspiration of Brahmaswaroop Shastriji Maharaj and the sincere efforts of many devoted devotees. Swaminarayan Satsang Temple was the first temple built outside India in 1945 and represents the growth of Satsang in Africa.
Painted idols of Lord Swaminarayan, Aksharbraham Gunatitananda Swami and Gopalananda Swami were consecrated in India by Pujya Shastriji Maharaj and installed in Nairobi with much fanfare.
In 1970, Yogiji Maharaj inaugurated the Hari Mandir in the affluent area of Nagara Road. At that time, he prophesied that a magnificent and large temple would be built in Nairobi. On 23-9-94, during Swamishri’s stay in Nairobi, some young devotees approached Swamishri.
And urged them to go ahead with building a new, bigger temple. Swamishri immediately accepted the proposal. The very next day, 24-9-94, Swamishri visited the land for the temple and showered flower petals on it. He prayed that a magnificent temple be built there.
Thus this project was started. Various opinions were formulated and presented to Swamishri. Swamishri suggested that the temple should incorporate traditional Hindu temple features such as spire, pillar and ghummat. Meanwhile, on behalf of Swamishri, His Holiness Mahant Swami went to Nairobi to perform Bhumi Pujan.
During this ceremony, His Holiness Mahant Swami, along with the holy waters of the Ganges, Narmada, Sabarmati, Gondli, Ghela, Nile, Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean, laid the bricks ceremoniously consecrated by Swamishri in India. . Also the current circulation coins of 151 countries were cast in the foundation along with the holy soil of the sacred birth place of Sriji Maharaj in Chappaiya.
After one million man hours, Swamishri dedicated the temple on 29th August, 1999. The temple festival was indeed a festival of joy and divinity. Yajna, historical procession and Murti Pratistha Mohotsav were celebrated.
Making of Mandir
A team from the Institute’s Planning Cell visited famous monuments in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Kerala, Abu and other places and studied their architecture and construction in detail. As a result, it was decided to build the structure of the Nairobi temple with RCC and cover it with sculpted stone from Jaisalmer.
The continent of Africa is famous for the great quality and variety of wood it produces. Therefore, Swamishri wanted the dome area of the temple to be decorated with such intricate and sophisticated wooden designs. After much discussion and thought, it was decided to use Algon teak, mavuli, mahogany and white oak. The first batch of selected wood was shipped to India in August 1998 in 8 containers. Then in February, 1999 another quantity was sent in 7 containers.
Artisans at 32 different locations in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan worked to create the wooden sculpture. The finished carvings were then sent to Mombasa, from where they were transported 500 miles by road to Nairobi. Experienced craftsmen then worked to touch up and assemble the design. Thus, the entire main dome of the temple, the pillars below the main dome and the walls of the dome area are all made of wood. A temple made of wood is a marvel.
Celebrating a Life of Inspirations: Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Centennial Celebrations, Nairobi, Kenya
A grand nine-day festival was celebrated from 17 to 25 September 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya to mark the birth centenary of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The festival was held in the 10 acre grounds of Jamhuri High School. Another 10 acres were used for parking facilities. The grounds were transformed into a festival venue called Swaminarayan Nagar.
About 1,575 volunteers (783 men and 792 women) from various centers in Nairobi and across Kenya served in 38 departments performing various duties before, during and after the festival.
On Saturday, September 17, the Swaminarayan Nagar festival site was inaugurated with a Mahapuja ceremony in the presence of respected saints, senior devotees and India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, Shri Rohit Wadhwana.
Over 80,000 people from across Kenya attended and were inspired by the festival, which was open to all from 10.00 am to 9.00 pm. every day Out of which 10,371 students from 67 schools in Kenya visited the festival and got inspiration on how to progress in studies and life.
History: In 1927, Shastriji Maharaj, founder and then spiritual leader of Bochasanvasi Sri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), blessed Maganbhai Patel to spread the message of Satsang in East Africa.
In 1945, the first idols of Akshar and Purushottam were installed in a small temple in Nairobi.
In 1955, Yogiji Maharaj inaugurated the first BAPS temple in Mombasa and subsequently established temples in Kampala, Jinja and Tororo (Uganda) in 1960.
In 1970, the culmination of Yogiji Maharaj’s visit to Nairobi was the consecration of a temple in Nairobi.
After Yogiji Maharaj’s visit, Pramukhswami Maharaj promoted the universal spirit of Hinduism through lectures, personal home visits, temples and festivals on East African soil. In 1977, Pramuchswami Maharaj established two temples in Dar-es-Salaam and Mwanza (in Tanzania).
In 1991 new temples were established in Johannesburg (S. Africa) and Eldoret in Kenya. Temples were reopened in Kampala and Jinja. The organization also has cultural centers and prayer halls in Nakuru, Kisumu, Kakamega, Kericho (all in Kenya), Arusha (Tanzania), Lusaka (Zambia), Harare (Zimbabwe), Gaborone (Botswana). and Durban (South Africa).
In 1995, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a massive five-spired temple in Nairobi. A miracle of volunteerism and craftsmanship in a short span of more than three years – Sama Mandir was inaugurated on 29th August 1999 by Pramukh Swami Maharaj.