originated in 1822 CE when Bhagwan Swaminarayan consecrated the first
stone pinnacled (shikharbaddh) mandir in Amdavad. The Satsangijivanam,
a Sanskrit treatise written during His lifetime, advocates chandan
adornments to the Lord, beginning on Parshuram Jayanti - on Vaishakh
Sud 3, also known as Akha Trij (4/60/50-51).
The sadhus who served as priests, then known as brahmacharis applied
and decorated the chandan as an act of worship which simultaneously
imbued a cooling effect to the Lord, to circumvent the torrid summer
heat, when temperatures hover around 43oC, often soaring to 45oC in
To return to the early 19th century, senior Paramhansas such as Muktanand
Swami and Anandanand Swami often offered pujan to Bhagwan Swaminarayan
by applying chandan on His forehead as well as over the entire body.
The Lord then embraced these Paramhansas to fulfil their devotional
sentiments and zeal. The poet Paramhansa Premanand Swami has beautifully
versified this glorious sight in a kirtan:
Chandan charchita neelkalevara katitata kasyo pata peeta.
i.e. The Lord's (upper) body, with a dark complexion has been besmeared
with chandan and has tied a yellow sash at the waist.