Saturday, July 22, 2023

Abu Dhabi's first Hindu temple to open next February

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto - Wikipedia

After four years of construction, Abu Dhabi’s first mandir or Hindu temple will be inaugurated on 10 February 2024, , a monumental work of marble and sandstone.

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir will open for worship on 18 February, becoming a key religious landmark in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to more than three million immigrants from India who make up 27.15 per cent of the population, the fourth largest, overseas Indian community in the world.

The structure in white marble and pink sandstone is already attracting thousands of people of different nationalities who pray and bless the bricks used to build the temple in the Abu Mureikha area, reports The National, a local newspaper.

More than 2,000  artisans carved the pillars and columns for the temple, built by the Baps Swaminarayan Sanstha, an organisation that has overseen the construction of some 1,200 temples around the world.

Once completed, the 32-metre-high structure will be decorated with more than 200 ornate pillars. Like ancient Hindu shrines, it was built without using steel, iron, or reinforced concrete.

The layered compression technique used involves the use of granite at the foundation, pink sandstone added as the next layer and finally marble work that gives it structural strength.

The mandir includes a main prayer hall at ground level, while the second floor will have towering spires (shikhar), one for each emirate.

The sprawling structure, which covers 5.4 hectares on land gifted in 2015 by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to the country's Indian community, is located off the main E11 Sheikh Zayed motorway, which connects Abu Dhabi to Dubai.

Millions of handmade clay bricks, 20,000 tonnes of stone, 5,500 tonnes of white marble, and 14,500 tonnes of pink sandstone were used in the construction.

Thus, the Middle East’s first traditional Hindu temple will join the Abrahamic Family House, the complex that symbolises interfaith dialogue in the United Arab Emirates, with its church, synagogue and mosque.

This is the legacy of Pope Francis’s visit to the country in 2019, when he and Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayyeb signed the document on Human Fraternity, in the presence of over 400 religious leaders, to promote coexistence among peoples and fight extremism.