PM Modi inaugurates Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu stone temple, describes it as symbol of shared heritage of humanity

‘BAPS Mandir’, the first traditional Hindu temple in the United Arab Emirates, sits on 27 acres of land that was gifted by the UAE leadership.

February 14, 2024 07:25 pm | Updated February 15, 2024 09:19 am IST - Abu Dhabi [UAE]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the BAPS Hindu Mandir, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on February 14, 2024.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the BAPS Hindu Mandir, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on February 14, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu stone temple, describing it as a symbol of the shared heritage of humanity and thanked the UAE for scripting a new golden chapter of human history.

Speaking at the inauguration of the temple built by the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), the Prime Minister profusely thanked the President of UAE, Sheikh Mohammad Zayed Al Nahyan, for making the grand temple in Abu Dhabi a reality and said he had not only won the hearts of Indians living in the Gulf nation but also of 140 crore Indians.

Also read | India-UAE ties serve as a model for world: PM Modi at Indian diaspora event

“I hope that the BAPS Mandir will become a symbol of communal harmony and global unity for the whole world,” Mr. Modi said, addressing a gathering that included UAE Tolerance Minister Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and spiritual leaders from all faiths.

Recalling the consecration ceremony of the newly constructed Ram temple in Ayodhya last month, the Prime Minister said it was his good fortune to have witnessed the inauguration of the BAPS temple in Abu Dhabi.

“Our immense pleasure in Ayodhya has been further enhanced by the wave of happiness received in Abu Dhabi today. It is my good fortune that I have been a witness to the grand Shri Ram temple first in Ayodhya, and then to this temple in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

“Just last month, the age-old dream of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya was fulfilled. Ram Lalla is seated in his Bhavan! The whole of India and every Indian is still immersed in that feeling of love,” Mr. Modi said.

27-acre site

The BAPS temple is built on a 27-acre site in Abu Mreikhah, near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway, at a cost of around ₹700 crore.

The Prime Minister noted that this is not only the time of India’s ‘Amrit Kaal’, but also the time of ‘Amrit Kaal’ of our faith and culture.

“We do not see hatred in diversity, we consider diversity as our specialty! In this temple, we will see a glimpse of diverse faiths at each and every step,” Mr. Modi said.

He said the UAE, which till now was known for Burj Khalifa, Future Museum, Sheikh Zayed Mosque and other hi-tech buildings, had now added another cultural chapter to its identity.

“I am confident that a large number of devotees will come here in the times to come. This will also increase the number of people coming to the UAE and increase the people-to-people connect between the two countries,” Mr. Modi said.

Also read | Looking at taking forward India-U.A.E. comprehensive strategic partnership: PM Modi

Lauding the contribution of the UAE president in making the grand temple a reality, he said, “If there is anyone who has the biggest and the most significant role in making this grand temple a reality, then it is none other than my brother His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.” “The Government of UAE has wholeheartedly worked to fulfil the aspirations of crores of Indians. The Government of UAE has not only won the hearts of Indians living in the UAE but also of all 140 crore Indians,” he said.

Earlier, Mr. Mod took a tour of the temple spread across a 27-acre campus and participated in the rituals of a ceremony to dedicate the temple to the people prior to its inauguration.

Mr. Modi recalled that Swami Brahmavihari had said he was good to be a temple priest after the keen interest he had shown in knowing the minute details of the place of worship.

“I do not know whether I am fit to be a priest of a temple, but I feel proud of being the priest of Maa Bharti,” Mr. Modi said amid slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ from the gathering.

“Every moment of the time that God has given me and every particle of the body that God has given me is only for Maa Bharati. 140 crore countrymen are my revered gods” the Prime Minister said.

Mr. Modi said at every step in this temple one gets a glimpse of this confidence that strengthens belief in humanity.

“On the walls of the temple, alongside the Hindu religion, you will see hieroglyphs from Egypt. Stories from the Bible and Koran have been carved. At the entrance of the temple, you get to see the wall of harmony which has been built by our brothers from the Bohra Muslim community,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the impressive 3D experience in this temple was initiated by members of the Parsi community and the responsibility of the langar was taken up by Sikh brethren.

“Members of every religion and sect have come forward to build this temple. The seven pillars of this temple represent the seven emirates. This is the nature of the Indian people. Wherever we go, we respect and imbibe their culture and values. This aspect of respect for every faith is also seen in the life of Sheikh Mohammad,” he said.

Those gathered at the event gave a standing ovation to the UAE President as a mark of appreciation of his contribution to the construction of the temple.

Later, taking to X, Mr. Modi said, “During this UAE visit, I got to be a part of a wide range of programmes, which have boosted India-UAE friendship and deepened the cultural connect between our nations. I am glad to have addressed the @WorldGovSummit and talked about our efforts to make our planet better. I thank the Government and people of UAE for their warm hospitality.” During the temple visit, Mr. Modi met people from different faiths who contributed to the construction of the first Hindu stone temple here.

The Prime Minister also offered water in the virtual Ganga and Yamuna rivers at the temple before proceeding to inaugurate the temple.

He also inscribed “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam” on the stone using a hammer and chisel at the temple.

According to the temple authorities, the grand temple has been built as per an ancient style of construction and creation mentioned in the Shilpa and Sthapathya Shastras, Hindu scriptures which describe the art for mandir design and construction.

Scientific techniques

“The architectural methods have been clubbed with scientific techniques here. Over 300 high-tech sensors have been installed at every level of the temple to measure temperature, pressure and movement (seismic activity). The sensors will provide live data for research. If there is any earthquake in the region, the temple will detect it, and we will be able to study,” Swami Brahmaviharidas, head of international relations for BAPS, told PTI.

No metal has been used in the construction of the temple and fly ash has been used to fill up the foundation, replacing 55 per cent of cement in the concrete mix, reducing the carbon footprint of the temple.

Madhusudan Patel, the temple’s construction manager, told PTI, “We have used heat-resistant nano tiles and heavy glass panels, merging both traditional aesthetic stone structures with modern-day functionality.

Considering the extreme temperatures in the UAE, the tiles will be comfortable for visitors to walk even in hot weather. Non-ferrous material has also been used in the temple.” Constructed with 18 lakh bricks, seven lakh man hours and 1.8 lakh cubic metres of sandstone sourced directly from Rajasthan, Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple has been made in the Nagara style of architecture, just like the recently inaugurated Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

According to Umesh Raja, a volunteer at the temple, 20,000 tonnes of sandstone pieces were carved in Rajasthan and then shipped to Abu Dhabi in 700 containers.

“Not just the stone, many labourers who helped construct the temple over five years belong to Gujarat and Rajasthan. Even the marble mined from Italy was first shipped to India for carving and then back to the UAE to be used in the interiors,” he said.

The work for the structure has been going on since 2019. The land for the temple was donated by the UAE government. The UAE has three other Hindu temples that are located in Dubai. The BAPS temple, spread over a large area with stone architecture, will be the largest of all in the Gulf region.

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