Aims and Significance
Shikharbaddha mandirs house the sacred images of the deity in the central shrines, thus becoming a sacred space and place of worship where Hindus come to pray, worship, meditate, and offer devotion to the Deity. Shikharbaddh mandirs serve not only as traditional places of worship, but also hold important functions in the social and cultural spheres of Hindu life in India. George Michell, a scholar of Indian archaeology and architecture, has observed, “The temple is the most characteristic artistic expression of Hinduism, providing a focus for both the social and spiritual life of the community it serves.” Traditional shikharbaddha mandirs have also been built outside the Indian subcontinent, and function as a means for members of the Hindu diaspora to connect with and celebrate their cultural and spiritual heritage. Swaminarayan, who consecrated six shikharbaddha mandirs in Gujarat, India between 1822 and 1828, described the five-fold significance of these traditional Hindu mandirs. Firstly, mandirs served as a holy place for offering worship, constructed and consecrated according to the Hindu scriptures. Given their divinity, they were also ideal locations to celebrate Hindu festivals and to perform religious rituals. Mandirs additionally functioned as a locus for spiritual gatherings and instruction, and as centers for the study of Sanskrit, the scriptures, and devotional arts. Finally, mandirs served as a base for charitable services, as alms, medicines, and clothes were donated by devotees to the needy.
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