Jeddah: There was overwhelming joy among the NRI community living not only in UAE but also other parts of the Gulf as the foundation stone for the first traditional Hindu temple was laid in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
The ‘Shilanyas Vidhi’ ceremony was presided by Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha — the religious and social organisation building the temple and the brain behind the structure.
Select devotees from around the world joined priests in a mahapuja as part of the ‘Shilanyas Vidhi’, which is the foundation stone laying ceremony for the temple. NRIs, people of Indian origin from other countries, Indian Ambassador Navdeep Suri, BAPS Hindu Mandir committee head, community leader BR Shetty, community members, diplomats and priests showered flower petals, added water from three Indian rivers and placed small blocks of stone to the portion that would make up the temple’s base.
Fifty priests who came from India were part of the ceremonies. “When complete, this temple will symbolise the universal human values and spiritual ethos that has been a shared heritage of both India and UAE,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a message read out by Ambassador Suri.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) joint executive officer B Laxmikantham was among the specially invited persons from across the world for ceremony. Speaking to Telangana Today over phone, he said: “I am overwhelmed with joy to witness such a historic event in UAE”.
“Hindus in the UAE hold weddings and other auspicious ceremonies in a narrow temple in Dubai, Sikh Gurdwara and in their homes, hotels. Some even travel back to India. But, with this temple, we will have an opportunity to do this in the UAE itself, which we consider home,” long-time NRI from Telangana Metta Rameshchandra said.
Another NRI based in Riyadh said: “It is immense pleasure and joy to realise that a large temple is being built in the UAE”. “Whenever one visits UAE, as most Indians often do, he/she can visit the temple for spiritual purpose,” E Yadi Murty, a Jeddah-based management executive, said.
The temple is being built on 13.5 acres donated by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The temple, with seven spires that represent the UAE’s seven emirates and five ornate domes, sports every feature of a traditional Indian temple.
According BAPS Mandir in Abu Dhabi, every corner and crevice will be made of pink stones from Rajasthan and marble from Macedonia, which will be hand-carved by Indian artisans. These pieces of the temple will be shipped to the UAE and assembled here. The temple will also house a cultural and spiritual centre with six to seven prayer rooms, play area for children, lush gardens, vegetarian food courts, a library, gift store, exhibition halls, a visitor’s centre and more.