ABU DHABI: The historic foundation stone-laying ceremony (Shilanyas Vidhi) of the first traditional Hindu temple being built in Abu Dhabi, UAE was performed on Saturday in the presence of officials from India and the United Arab Emirates as well as thousands of members of the community.
The four-hour ceremony was presided over by Mahant Swami Maharaj — the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha — the organisation building the temple, along with other priests. Indian Ambassador Navdeep Suri attended the event in the presence of over 2,500 Indians from the UAE and across the world, according to Gulf News.
Suri and BAPS Hindu Mandir committee head and community leader B.R. Shetty were among those who laid foundation stones. Some 50 priests from India were part of the ceremony, the Khaleej Times reported.
UAE’s Minister of Climate Change Thani Al Zoyoudi and Ahmad Bilhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Sciences, were among the attendees.
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 Khaleej Times said.
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.