Thousands of followers attended the foundation stone laying ceremony of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Khaleej Times reported that 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.
According to the report, the ceremony started with rituals led by Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami. While chanting the mantas, priests also described to devotees how each ritual had to be conducted.
The four-hour ceremony took place at Abu Mureikha.
At the ceremony, the priests sanctified the pink sandstones to be used to set foundation of the temple. All these stones have been transported from Rajasthan.
The ceremonies completed around 10.55 am local time, after which the foundation stone was laid by priests and BAPS Hindu Mandir committee head and community leader BR Shetty. Nearly 50 priests went from India to take part in the ceremonies.
On the occasion, India’s Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Suri read out a message on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“When complete, this Temple will symbolize the universal human values and spiritual ethos that has been a shared heritage of both India & UAE,” he said.
The temple is to be built in phases, with the sandstones hand-carved by artisans in India first and then transported to Abu Dhabi. Once completed, this Swaminarayan temple will be the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East.
The plan to build the temple was approved by the Abu Dhabi government during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to UAE in 2015.
The temple will be located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi city, off the main Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway in Abu Mureikha on 5.5 hectares, 55,000 sq m land with an additional 5.5 hectares for parking.
Indian ambassador Navdeep Suri has said last month it would take a couple of years to complete.