We know that we are! While the UAE has been a strict Muslim community, with only minor shrines and institutions permitted to other religions, we have finally received the permission to build the first ever proper Hindu temple. This is a news that brings joy to the thousands of Hindus who have emigrated there for work. Each day brings new information that keeps the 60,000 odd Hindu residents of Abu dhabi on their toes waiting for the temple’s completion. Finally a place where they can practise their religion communally in peace. This temple which is set to be inaugurated on April 20 2020 is the fruit of the tireless efforts of the BAPs Hindu Mandir, an international Hindu Socio-Spiritual organisation.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj, a former president of the BAPs Swami Narayana sanstha was the first to set the things in motion for this temple. In the year 1997, he was taken to visit the desert in Sharjah. The vast expanse of sand dunes inspired him to
pray for three things
1.For Peace to prevail everywhere
2.For all religions of all countries to grow greater love for one another
3.For all countries to be free of enmity and prejudice.
He also wished that a mandir be built in Abu Dhabi for the Hindus there to pray in. Since then various members of the BAPs organisation have met with local and government leaders for land and permission to build a temple in Abu Dhabi.
Sheik Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. He is a person who calls for liberality and opposes the Islamic movements in Arabia. He is also considered the most powerful and most influential Arab ruler of the modern age. Back in 2015 he finally gave the grant of 13.5 acres of land for the temple to be built on. This was done during the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first official visit to the UAE. He has since declared 2019 as the Year of Tolerance and spread the need for religious and cultural tolerance in the modern world. 14 more acres of land were gifted to BAPS for the temple in 2019.
In February of 2018 the Prime minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi visited the UAE on the invite of Prince Zayed. As part of his religious tolerance policy , they signed 8 MoU’s and announced the plans for the Mandir in an official capacity. This announcement was made from the Presidential Palace as a Golden Amrut Kalash amidst renowned Sadhus and members of BAPs. Prime Minister Modi laid the foundation stone of the temple on another visit in 2018. Since then the work on the temple has progressed at a significant speed ensuring it is ready to be unveiled on April 20 of this year.
The temple’s design is inspired from the Akshardham temple of India which is located in Delhi. Anyone who has visited the massive temple complex of Akshardham knows the sheer beauty of its architecture. It is truly inspiring that this beauty will be taken to foreign lands carrying forward the rich traditional Hindu architectural styles. Another BAPS temple that has been built in New Jersey is also said to possess a similar design but the plans are yet to be revealed to the public. The seven spires that the temple will have are to represent the seven Emirates of the UAE. There will be five massive and magnificent domes that will stand out in a graceful testimony to the Hindu architectural style. The Shilpashastras were consulted to draw the plans and followed carefully in the execution of the construction. The temple is entirely made from the most beautiful and lustrous pink and white marble that has been sourced from Rajasthan and Macedonia respectively. They are first hand carved by traditional Indian artisans first in Rajasthan and are shipped to Abu Dhabi. Only the assembly is done in situ. This a pure logistics decision as it was feared that transporting the huge numbers of artisans and the permits for them would again delay the opening of the temple. Every decision made was done to speed up the completion and to have it ready and open for all the people to enjoy.
The temple will not only replicate the Akshardham in its style but also its use. There are plans for a cultural and spiritual centre besides the shrines. There will be prayer and meditation rooms, children’s play area, lush gardens, vegetarian food courts, library containing Hindu spiritual tomes, gift store, exhibition hall, visitor’s centre etc. It will be capable of handling festivals and communal gatherings and ceremonies. It will become a learning centre for people of Abu Dhabi and the surrounding regions that want to learn more about our Indian culture and the Hindu way of life. This ensures that even the children of those who have settled in the UAE can experience their Indian heritage in an unadulterated environment. It will help people keep in touch with their roots and inculcate the importance of our faith and beliefs. Everyone is waiting with bated breath for the temple to open. We are too and hope everyone gets a chance to visit and experience the Hindu version of divinity there. If you visit the temple and would love to share your experience with us, please leave your opinions in the comments section.