On September 7th, 2008, the Family Activity Center (FAC) was inaugurated at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in the Atlanta suburb of Lilburn, Georgia. Festivities began on September 5th with traditional discourses and bhajans. Afterwards, hundreds stood under the stars of the sky to marvel at the Mandir as it was lit in a variety of colors, including red, white, and blue of the American flag and orange, white, and green of the Indian flag.
On the morning of September 7th, special guest, John Oxendine, the Commissioner of Insurance for the State of Georgia, and Pujya Yagnavallabh Swami performed a ceremonious ribbon cutting and formally inaugurated the Family Activity Center. An enlivening traditional folk dance was performed by the youths of BAPS and discourses were given by sadhus. Over 2000 well wishers were in attendance.
The Family Activity Center will hold weekly assemblies and will serve as an operation center for BAPS Charities, which conducts the organizationís community service projects. It will also be the primary venue for cultural programs and youth activities. The FAC is clad with Indian pink sandstone and houses a 24,000 square foot assembly hall. This hall can be broken down into 5 smaller spaces to hold weekly youth assemblies and other events.
Since its inauguration on August 26th, 2007, many have marveled at its architectural beauty, reveled in its cultural symbolism, and sought refuge within its serene walls. School groups, senior groups, womenís clubs, and college classes have traveled from the nearby communities and states to learn about Hinduism and the Indian culture. Some highlights of the first year for the Mandir include:
Community service through the canned food collection for the Atlanta Food Bank, a blood drive in partnership with the American Red Cross, and Walk 2007 benefiting the American Cancer Society; Fostering Indian culture by organizing language classes, traditional Indian music instrument classes, and youth forums and conventions; Reliving the joys of Uttarayan, with dozens of kites flying through out the skies in early January 2008; Hosting special guests such as Mr. Amit Shah, the mayor of Amdavad, Mr. B. S. Yeddyurappa, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, and Mr. Ronen Sen, the Indian Ambassador to the United States.