Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi to celebrate Janmashtami

Dubai: The first-ever Hindu temple coming up in Abu Dhabi will mark the festival of Janmashtami on Friday, and devotees are hoping Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is paying a state visit to the UAE, will drop by to see the festivities.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced on Sunday that Modi will be in Abu Dhabi on a two-day visit starting Friday to receive the UAE Zayed Award, and then proceed to Bahrain.

The announcement has left many wondering if Modi will visit the Bochanswasi Akshar Purshottam Swaminarayan Santha (BAPS) temple for the Janmashtami festival to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna. Invites for the festivities have already been sent out.

A cultural programme is to be held as part of the festivities from 5 to 7 p.m., followed by distribution of ‘Maha Prasad’ or food that is offered to the lord. The programme includes a performance of devotional songs, narration of Krishna katha (legend of Krishna) and lighting of lamps.

A source at BAPS temple said: “We have made arrangements for over 1,200 people to be here on the day. We have no intimation if the honourable Indian Prime Minister Modi will be attending the event… We have not extended any formal invitation to him.”

However, since Modi observes a fast during Janmashtami, there is a chance that he may pay a visit to the temple.

On August 15, the temple committee had celebrated the festival of Raksha Bandhan by inviting 1,200 blue collar workers from across the UAE. “Our members tied rakhi on the wrist of the workers and served them food. It was an inclusive gesture on our part as many of them were missing their sisters and the festivities. The workers were overjoyed.”

In April, the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Hindu temple was performed in the presence of thousands of Indian community people and officials from India and the UAE.

More than 2,500 Indians from the UAE and across the world took part in the ceremony during which a portrait of Shaikh Zayed was unveiled to mark the Year of Tolerance.

The temple is being built on 13.5 acres (55,000 square metres) of land gifted by Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the Indian community.

The Abu Dhabi government had approved the plan to build the temple during Prime Minister Modi’s first visit to the UAE in 2015.

The temple with seven towers representing the seven emirates in the UAE is coming up at Abu Mureikhah in Al Rahba area on the Abu Dhabi-Sweihan-Al Ain Road, close to the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway.

The temple complex will also include a visitors’ centre, prayer halls, exhibitions, learning areas, sports area for children and youth, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, book and gift shop and other facilities.