UAE residents and tourists bless bricks for new Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi

The public is being invited to get involved with building the shrine, which will be finished in late 2023

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Worshippers and visitors in Abu Dhabi are lining up to get involved in the construction of the capital's first traditional Hindu stone temple.

Residents and tourists are praying over bricks before bringing them to the Mureikha construction site where they will be added to carved stone pillars.

The gesture symbolises community involvement in the construction of what will be the largest Hindu shrine in the UAE when it is completed in late 2023.

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The significance of this ceremony is it allows one to be a part of history in the making
Ashok Kotecha, chairman of the BAPS Hindu Mandir

The temple's foundations have been completed and its first three layers of carved stone have been fitted, said Ashok Kotecha, chairman of BAPS Hindu Mandir, which is overseeing construction.

The shrine will embody ancient stories from Hindu scriptures in its architecture.

Carved sandstone pillars, hand-sculpted by artisans in India, were shipped to Abu Dhabi for the towering temple that will have five ornate domes and seven spires, one for each emirate of the UAE.

Bricks are blessed and then brought to the temple's main constriction area. Vidhyaa Chandrmohan for The National

“Visitors will have the opportunity to see the mandir [temple] taking shape in front of their eyes,” Mr Kotecha told The National.

“Visitors shall be able to see the construction of the intricately carved outer walls and majestic pillars.”

The temple authorities decided last month to invite visitors to take part in prayers to bless the bricks and be part of the construction phase.

“The significance of this ceremony is it allows one to really be a part of history in the making,” Mr Kotecha said.

“Thoughts, love and well-wishes of visitors are captured in this ceremony and will allow their presence to reverberate through the passage of time as the temple stands tall upon completion.”

Gopi Krishnan Venugopal, an Abu Dhabi resident, took part in one Friday ceremony with 40 relatives and friends.

“It is a great honour to be part of the temple construction, even in a small way,” said Mr Venugopal, a Malaysian citizen who works in the oil and gas sector.

“We feel blessed to have the opportunity to be part of the historic event of building a temple.

“For me, this signifies the integration of the oldest civilisation and tradition, in the form of a temple, with the diversity and inclusion of the UAE.”

How the Hindu temple will look when it is completed. Photo: BAPS Hindu Mandir

Mr Venugopal’s wife, Rekha, and teenage daughter Priya joined him inside a large tent on the site where they recited prayers and sprinkled flowers and vermilion powder – a red substance often used during Hindu services – on the bricks.

The group then carried the bricks outside to be used later in the temple's construction.

An exhibition area has been set up for visitors to learn more about the shrine and how land for its construction was granted by the UAE.

“My prayers are for safe construction, giving thanks to the UAE Rulers for giving us this land,” Mr Venugopal said.

“I also pray this pandemic will go away so more people can meet, congregate and pray.”

The building will replicate the traditional architecture of ancient temples in India and will not use iron reinforcements in its construction.

The stonework shipped from India will be assembled and fitted on site, the process resembling a massive jigsaw puzzle.

Its designs include prayer halls, an amphitheatre, a community centre, library, children’s play area, parks and food court.

Devotees from overseas can be part of the ceremony online. Others can visit the temple site on Friday between 10am to 2pm after registering on the temple website.

Updated: December 30, 2021, 3:28 AM
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