Abu Dhabi: In a display of unity and mutual respect, ambassadors from over 30 nations convened at the construction site of the BAPS Hindu Mandir Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
More than 85 guests including resident ambassadors and members of the diplomatic community were inited to the temple by the Indian Ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir.
According to a press release issued by the Indian Embassy, the aim of the visit was to promote intercultural understanding while witnessing the progress of the region’s first traditional Hindu temple. Coming up on a vast 27-acre site gifted by the UAE government, the magnificent stone mandir and cultural complex is dubbed as a manifestation of the universal values of tolerance and harmony.
The visit provided the ambassadors with a comprehensive overview of the mandir’s historical significance, the construction process, and the expected impact, conveyed through captivating video presentations and personal experiences.
Symbol of India-UAE bond
Sudhir welcomed the Ambassadors and briefed them on the progress of the temple, since the laying of its foundation stone by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018. He described the temple project as a symbol of the close, historic and cultural bonds between India and the UAE, who share the values of peace, harmony, tolerance and coxistence.
The ambassador also hailed the vision of the leadership of the UAE and their inspiring efforts to forge a model, multicultural, peaceful and cohesive community in the country.
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Ashok Kotecha, Yogesh Mehta, Chirag Patel, Pranav Desai and the dedicated directors and volunteers overseeing the mandir’s construction, welcomed the dignitaries with garlands and a traditional ceremony symbolising friendship and goodwill.
In an interaction with Brahmaviharidas Swami, who is spearheading the Hindu Mandir project, the envoys were briefed about the features of the temple, which will make it not only an architectural marvel but also a unique symbol of peace, tolerance and harmony.
Through a video presentation, the Indian Minister of External Affairs of India Dr. S. Jaishankar, shared his hopes of what the mandir would mean for the UAE and the world as well as his deep respect for the vision and direction of the UAE leadership. He stated that he was extremely touched about the announcement about the temple and now seeing it coming up.
He further added that “real change is when different cultures connect with each other respectfully encompassing equality and fairness”.
In his address, Swami Brahmaviharidas said: “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. 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”.
During a guided tour, the guests sprinkled flowers on the bricks to be used for the mandir. They saw the intricate carvings and delicate designs and learned that Arabian, Mayan, Greek and other cultural tales that encourage peace, tolerance, and harmony have been immortalised in stone on the mandir’s façade.
Ensuring the mandir endures for centuries to come, skilled craftsmen from India meticulously created these artworks without any steel reinforcements and pieced them together like a giant stone jigsaw.
The envoys had an elaborate interaction with the UAE-based craftsmen, coming from all parts of the world and from across faiths, and other members of the temple team.
Ambassadors hail the project
The Ambassador of New Zealand, Dr. Richard Kay conveyed his profound delight, stating, “the mandir, a cultural asset, will be a fantastic addition to the skyline of the UAE.”
The Ambassador of Japan, Akio Isomata stated: “I am overwhelmed with the Indian craftsmanship. I see a philosophy of tolerance in the carvings.”
Aminath Shabeena, Ambassador of the Maldives, commented that the striking carvings represent the flora and fauna of India and the UAE. “It is wondrous to see the tolerance of the leadership of the UAE,” she added.
The Ambassador of Israel, Amir Hayek shared his sentiments stating “this monument is being constructed in a country built on tolerance and will most certainly contribute to harmony in the region and the world”. He also tweeted immediately after his visit stating: “I have no doubt that the mandir will be a source of attraction for visitors from all over the world.”
As a mark of appreciation and to cherish the memorable visit, each Ambassador was presented with a beautifully crafted miniature model of the mandir.