The foundation stone-laying ceremony of the first traditional Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi has been performed this morning in the presence of thousands of Indian community people and officials from India and the UAE.
The ‘Shilanyas Vidhi’ ceremony was presided over by Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha – the religious and social organisation building the temple.
The ceremony started with rituals led by Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami. Sanskrit verses filled the air as priests described to devotees how each ritual had to be conducted.
In the early morning, people queued up to enter the tent where pujas were being performed. The huge air-conditioned tent was fully packed. More than 2,500 Indians from the UAE and across the world took part in the ceremony.
Indian ambassador to the UAE, Navdeep Suri, and BR Shetty, Chairman of NMC group were also present at the event.
Community leaders and devotees followed the directions from their respective seated areas which had a tray placed in front of them containing a brick, rice, flowers, nuts etc. There were some 50 priests who had come from India and were part of the ceremonies.
The BAPS Hindu Mandir is located at Abu Mureikha, E11 Expressway, Exit 366 Abu Dhabi. BAPS is responsible for building the temple.
The temple is being built on 13.5 acres (55,000 square metres) of land gifted by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to the Indian community.
In the Year of Tolerance, the UAE government has gifted an equal area of land additionally for building parking facilities in the temple premises.
The temple will be built in phases with all pink stones and marbles being transported from Indian state of Rajasthan to the UAE capital.
The stones of the temple will be hand-carved by artisans in India and then transported to Abu Dhabi.