Mahant Swami Maharaj and other priests
Mahant Swami Maharaj and other priests perform rituals in the presence of Thani Bin Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Ahmad Bel Houl Al Falasi, Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Navdeep Suri and Dr B.R. Shetty during the foundation stone-laying ceremoney for the temple in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The historic foundation stone-laying ceremony of the first traditional Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi has been performed this morning in the presence of thousands of Indian community people and officials from India and the UAE.

At 11.45am foundation stones were laid down following puja ceremonies that started from about 9am.

Dh450m

Estimated cost of designing and constructing the temple complex

More than 2,500 Indians from the UAE and across the world took part in the ceremony.

Video by: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

In the early morning people queued up to enter the tent where pujas were being performed. The huge airconditioned tent was fully packed.

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The ceremony was being administered as per vedic rituals in the holy presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS) Swaminarayan Sanstha, and graced by Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, Director of Community Development Department, Thani Al Zoyoudi, Minister of Climate Change, and Ahmad Bilhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education Affairs and Advanced Sciences.

Indian ambassador to the UAE, Navdeep Suri, and BR Shetty, Chairman of NMC group were also present at the event.

They all laid foundation stones and cement to accomplish the ceremony.

Video by: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

The BAPS Hindu Mandir is located at Abu Mureikha, E11 Expressway, Exit 366 Abu Dhabi. BAPS is responsible for building the temple.

I was fortunate to get a brick to lay at the temple;s foundation. It’s a great opportunity for me. I came from Gujarat especially for this occasion on April 17 and will be going back on April 21. This initiative will spread the message of communal harmony and peace globally.

- Shankar Choudhary | Visitor from Gujarat

Maharaj presided over the Shilanyas Vidhi (foundation stone-laying rituals) along with other sadhus (priests).

However, the Bhumi Pujan – sanctification of the land — were performed at the site in Abu Mureikhah area on February 11, 2018.

Video by: Anwar Ahmed/Gulf News

The temple is being built on 13.5 acres (55,000 square metres) of land gifted by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to the Indian community.

In the Year of Tolerance, the UAE government has gifted an equal area of land additionally for building parking facilities in the temple premises.

Video by: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

The Shilanyas [foundation stone laying] ceremony is a sacred Hindu ritual wherein the first foundation stones are sanctified and fixed in the ground as the base of the Mandir.

The Mandir’s foundation will then be made on these stones considered sacred. After these ceremonies, construction will begin in this Year of Tolerance.

This is really unbelievable and I would like thank the UAE so much for such a great project. We carry a very positive message of love and care from the UAE to the US.

- Nital Bhatt | Visitor from Texas