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All about the UAE's first traditional BAPS Hindu temple

T he ritual of shilanyas - or the laying of the foundation stones - for the UAE’s first traditional Hindu temple took place on Saturda...


The ritual of shilanyas - or the laying of the foundation stones - for the UAE’s first traditional Hindu temple took place on Saturday 20-April-2019.

Worshippers and members of the royal family are visited among the thousands are gather in Abu Dhabi to watch the two-hour ceremony.

Indian priests offered prayers and sanctify pink sandstone slabs that will form the base of the temple to be built in Abu Mureikha, near Al Rahba during the two-hour ceremony.

The shilanyas vidhi of the first traditional Hindu temple in the UAE is performed in the holy presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
People attend the foundation stone laying ceremony.
Here is everything we know so far:

What does shilanyas mean?
Shilanyas is a sacred Hindu ritual where the foundation stones are sanctified and fixed in the ground as the base for a temple. The structure’s foundation is then built on these sacred stones.
People attend the foundation stone laying ceremony.
Where will the temple be located?
The temple will be located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi city, to the north of the airport and off the main Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway in Abu Mureikha, E11, Exit 366.

India's ambassador to the UAE described it "beautifully located - 30 minutes outside of Abu Dhabi and barely 45 minutes to Dubai so it serves the needs of both communities".



How big is the site?
The temple will be constructed on 5.5 hectares, 55,000 sqm, of land with an additional 5.5 hectares for parking.

The land was a gift from Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

What will the temple be made of?
Pink sandstone from India’s Rajasthan state and marble will be used. The materials will be handcrafted in India by about 2,000 craftsmen.

The durable stones from the northern Indian state were selected for their ability to withstand scorching summer temperatures of up to 50°C, sometimes experienced in the UAE.

The pink sandstone used to build many of Jaipur’s palaces, including Hawa Mahal, above, gives the city its nickname. 
The sandstone was used to build many of Jaipur's palaces, including Hawa Mahal.

What will the temple look like?
Swami Brahmavihari, a senior Hindu priest handling international relations for Baps Swaminarayan Sanstha, the organization building the temple, described the temple as “the largest place in the UAE for people of all faiths to come and experience Hindu culture and religion.”

“Every carving will have a meaning and showcase stories of harmony and spirituality,” he said.

The largest Hindu temple outside India, Shri Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden, London.
Similar to 1,200 temples built by Baps across the world, the shrine will reflect nature with trees, flowers, peacocks and elephants carved into the panels and Hindu deities and saints within the structure.

A unique feature will be seven spires to represent the Emirates and five arched domes.

India's ambassador to the UAE has compared the style to Neasden Temple in London, rather than a modernist-style building.

When will be it be ready?
When the temple was first announced it was said that construction would be completed by 2020, though it is not clear if that has been pushed back. The Indian ambassador Navdeep Suri last month predicted: "it will take a couple of years to complete given the scale".

What else can visitors and tourists expect to see?
It will include a visitor’s center, prayer halls, exhibitions, learning facilities, play areas, thematic garden with water features, a vegetarian food court, books, and gift shop.

Who can visit?
People of all faiths can use assembly halls to celebrate festivities.
A couple pictured at a Vedic wedding ceremony.
Visitors will be encouraged to engage in dialogue to understand spirituality in multi-purpose halls.

Traditional Hindu marriage ceremonies will also be conducted.

What books will the library hold?
A Library of Values will contain books on peace, spirituality and global inclusiveness.

Who is responsible for the temple?
Baps Swaminarayan Sanstha is the religious and social organization building the shrine.

Worshippers buy decorative items for Diwali close to Bur Dubai's small Hindu temple. Pawan Singh
It manages a global network of Hindu temples in cities that include London, Houston, Sydney, Auckland, Nairobi, and Toronto.

How many places of worship exist in the UAE?
Apart from many Two Sikh gurdwaras, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, two small Hindu shrines in Dubai and a small synagogue also in Dubai.

For more information about the temple, visit the website, www.mandir.ae

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