The United Arab Emirates earned its moment in history as 2,500 devotees gathered from different parts of the world for the foundation stone-laying ceremony of its first Hindu temple.
The four-hour ceremony was presided over by Mahant Swami Maharaj — the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. The devotees who came from Abu Dhabi, the US, UK, and African continent, repeated verses in the Sanskrit language recited by priests.
The prayers were said for peace, harmony and to sanctify sandstones from India that will form the base of the temple, due to be constructed by next year. The site is located at Al Wathba, which is near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway. Some 50 priests from India were part of the ceremony.
The temple will be built in phases with all the pink stones and marble handcrafted by about 2,000 craftsmen being transported from Rajasthan to the UAE.
The stones of the temple will be hand-carved by artisans in India and then transported to Abu Dhabi. Once completed, this will be the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East.
The temple is being built on 13.5 acres (55,000 square metres) of land gifted by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the Indian community.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance, along with other ministers, diplomats and priests showered flower petals, sprinkled water brought from three rivers in India and placed symbolic stone blocks where the temple’s base will be laid.