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Harmony under the dome: UAE welcomes first Hindu temple

by Team@Lotus
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Narendra Modi inaugurated the temple.
More than bricks and mortar, the BAPS Mandir in Abu Dhabi is a living bridge, connecting cultures and fostering mutual love, respect, and understanding among diverse faiths.

In 1997, a vision was born. HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS, dreamt of a mandir in Abu Dhabi, not just a place of worship, but a bridge connecting countries, cultures, communities, and religions. This dream became a reality on February 14 this year with the opening of the BAPS Hindu Mandir, standing tall amid the shimmering sands of the city.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alongside His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the current BAPS head, and many dignitaries from both India and the UAE, inaugurated the BAPS temple in Abu Dhabi, marking a historic moment for religious tolerance and cultural diversity. This magnificent temple, the first of its kind in the Muslim-majority nation, stands as a symbol of interfaith harmony.

The architectural beauty

The temple itself is a marvel of artistry and cultural fusion. Built in the Nagara style of architecture and characterized by its 7 towering shikharas (spires) to represent the seven Arab Emirates, its intricately carved facades echo the majesty of ancient Hindu temples in India.

The temple’s outer surface is adorned with pink sandstone from Rajasthan, and inside, Italian marble is used.  20,000 tons of sandstone pieces were intricately carved in Rajasthan and then shipped to Abu Dhabi.

The land for the temple (about 13.5 acres) was donated by the UAE’s President in 2019. Standing tall at 108 feet, the temple even has special sensors to keep it safe during earthquakes. Lina Barot, a volunteer, explained to the media that the temple was built with special features for the hot Middel East climate. They used ‘nano tiles’ that stay cool for barefoot visitors, and even avoided metals that heat up easily, making it comfortable for everyone.

More than bricks and mortar, the BAPS Mandir in Abu Dhabi is a living bridge, connecting cultures and fostering mutual love, respect, and understanding among diverse faiths.

Not only does the temple offer a piece of India in the desert, it also celebrates diverse Hindu deities. Inside you’ll find idols of Lord Ram, Shiva, Jagannath, Krishna, Swaminarayan, Balaji, and even Ayyappa, representing various regions and traditions.

This desert oasis of a temple wasn’t born alone. Experts from across the globe joined hands, from Malaysian earthquake specialists to local UAE engineers, to make it a reality.

But the story within? It goes beyond borders. Alongside 15 Indian epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata, you’ll find tales from Mayan jungles, Aztec pyramids, and even ancient Egypt. This temple isn’t just a piece of India, it’s a celebration of global faith and shared human stories.

Holy water from the Ganges and Yamuna flows in man-made rivers surrounding the mandir, mirroring the sacred ghats of Varanasi. It’s not just a temple, it’s a journey through cultures and traditions, all under a magnificent dome.

The temple celebrates both its Indian heritage and its UAE home! Alongside majestic animals like elephants and lions from Hindu mythology, you’ll find a special guest: the UAE’s national bird, the falcon. It’s a beautiful nod to the cultural blend this unique temple embodies.

Confluence of faiths

A BAPS spokesperson told the media that this amazing temple was built by a team of diverse faiths. The architect is Christian, the project manager Sikh, the designer Buddhist, the builders Parsi, and the director Jain. It shows how people of different backgrounds can work together to create something beautiful.

The temple officially opens its doors on February 18, 2024, welcoming everyone to experience its message of peace and unity. As HH Mahant Swami Maharaj explained,    “In the heart of the desert, a spiritual sanctuary rises.”

The BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi isn’t just a temple; it’s an oasis for global harmony, where the whispers of yesterday weave into a future symphony of peace. A testament to tradition, it boldly recalibrates the landscape, inviting hearts of all faiths to share the melody of understanding. This is not just a building, it’s a beacon, calling us all to join hands and rewrite the future, page by sacred page.

Photos: PTI  

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