Senior Hindu priests were taken on a tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Tolerance.
Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of the organisation BAPS, which is building the temple in Abu Dhabi, and 50 sadhus or priests visited the Grand Mosque on Sunday. They were guided by Sheikh Nahyan and Dr Yousif Alobaidli, director general of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, who explained the significance of various aspects of the landmark.
The Mahant Swami paid respects to the 99 names of Allah that are inscribed in calligraphy on the wall of the mosque. He signed the guest book, where he praised the efforts of the government and the people of the UAE in promoting global harmony.
Sheikh Nahyan then drove the Mahant Swami in a golf cart to see the Martyrs' Memorial and gave the priest a book about the Grand Mosque.
Earlier in the day, the priests met Sheikh Nahyan at a private majlis in Abu Dhabi where the Mahant Swami presented him with a gold-plated amrut kalash, a vessel symbolising the nectar of immortality for health, happiness and enlightenment — it is considered a precious gift by Hindus.
The Mahant and Brahmavihari Swami, a senior priest overseeing the temple construction, discussed subjects of interfaith harmony and cultural inclusiveness with Sheikh Nahyan.
The priests were accompanied by Indian businessman BR Shetty.
The visit to the UAE this week is for a ceremony to mark the laying of a foundation stone that marks the start of construction of the country’s first traditional stone temple.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is a religious and social organisation that runs 1,200 temples in India and across the world.