Ambassadors from more than 30 nations met at the construction site of the Baps Hindu Mandir Abu Dhabi on Thursday to promote intercultural understanding and inspect the progress of the region's first traditional Hindu mandir.
On 55,000 square metres of land, the stone mandir and cultural complex provided the ambassadors with a comprehensive overview of its historical significance, the construction process and the expected impact of the development.
Directors and volunteers overseeing the mandir's construction welcomed more than 85 guests with a traditional tying of a sacred thread, a revered Hindu gesture symbolising friendship and goodwill.
A deep history between countries
Sunjay Sudhir, the Indian ambassador to the UAE, highlighted the long-standing friendship between India and the UAE, rooted in history, culture, and trade.
“This mandir represents the collective aspirations of faith of the broad Indian community living in the UAE, especially the saints and volunteers of BAPS who are serving tirelessly and selflessly to build this mandir of tolerance and harmony,” he said.
UAE’s first traditional Hindu temple on track to open in 2024
Guests were given a guided tour and shown the intricate carvings and delicate designs. Ensuring the mandir lasts for centuries, craftsmen from India created the artworks without any steel reinforcements and pieced them together like a giant stone jigsaw.
Through a video presentation, India's Minister of External Affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar shared his hopes of what the mandir would mean for UAE and the world.
“Real change is when different cultures connect with each other respectfully encompassing equality and fairness,” he said.
Swami Brahmaviharidas, a spiritual leader associated with the Baps Swaminarayan Sanstha, delivered the welcome address.
“Celebrating the past, addressing the present and recalibrating the future, Baps Hindu Mandir amalgamates ancient art and architecture, modern science and technology, universal values and spirituality,” he said.
“Your presence here sends a hopeful message of harmony and is a testament to the belief that dialogue, exchange and engagement can bring us all closer together and make this world a happier place”.
Each ambassador was given a miniature model of the mandir.
The Baps Hindu Mandir, which will open in less than a year, will add a new landmark to Abu Dhabi’s collection of culture, art and values, which includes the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Louvre and Abrahamic Family House.
The complex will include prayer halls, learning areas, gardens, water features, a visitor centre, exhibitions, a food court and a gift shop.