Look: Diplomats from 42 countries explore new Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi

The Middle East’s first traditional stone temple will open on February 14

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Wed 31 Jan 2024, 8:56 AM

Last updated: Wed 31 Jan 2024, 2:56 PM

Ambassadors and diplomats from 42 countries visited the BAPS Hindu Mandir to witness the ongoing progress of the Middle East’s first traditional stone temple.

The envoys convened at the temple on the invitation of Sunjay Sudhir, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE.

“It seemed impossible, but the dream has truly become a reality,” Sudhir said as the temple is nearing completion and scheduled to be inaugurated by Mahant Swami Maharaj and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 14.

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More than 60 dignitaries, including ambassadors and diplomats, were welcomed with garlands and greeted with the traditional tying of a sacred thread.

In his keynote address, Pujya Swami Brahmaviharidas, head of the BAPS Hindu Mandir project, highlighted the temple’s historical significance, construction process, and global impact. He also expressed gratitude to the UAE and Indian leadership, emphasising the temple’s role as a powerful agent of interfaith and intercultural harmony.

The diplomats were given a guided tour of the hand-carved temple by BAPS volunteers and expressed their admiration for the historic project, which symbolises the universal principles of tolerance and harmony.

Tej Bahadur Chhetri, Ambassador of Nepal, underlined that the temple is an inspiring building that teaches individuals about love, harmony, and tolerance.

“It is something that we will gift to our future generations. Mahant Swami Maharaj is a great sadhu. Because of him, people were inspired to build this Mandir, and it is a huge success.”

Radha Krishna Panday, Ambassador of Canada, said: “Dedication to quality, the artistry, the thought that went into the choice of images to celebrate the diversity and harmony of human nature is all very striking and most appealing.”

Sorayut Chasombat, Ambassador of Thailand, termed the visit as one of the best experiences he had in the UAE.

“I have seen [the temple] from the start to now near the finish, and I have to say it is the symbol of harmony that will stand the test of time for thousands of years into the future. I wish to express my gratitude to the leadership of the UAE, the leadership of India, and [Mahant] Swami Maharaj for bringing forward this big project for humanity.”

Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Jonathan Knight, Deputy Ambassador of the UK, said, “It’s wonderful to see a place that’s been contributed by so many different faiths coming together to build something that will last for generations. My hope is this building provides a home away from home.”

Alexander Schonfelder, Ambassador of Germany, underlined: “We have the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Abrahamic Family Houses in Abu Dhabi, and now we have this wonderful place. I think it is clear that we live in a country where religious tolerance is really lived.”

Kamal R Vaswani, Ambassador of Singapore, hailed the temple as a marvel of leadership and vision and a testament to the human spirit.

“There are many commonalities among all of us, values depicted around the temple shared between many different religions, cultures, and faiths. It is a wonderful symbol of how we can live together in peace and harmony.”

Ambassadors and senior diplomats who visited the site include those from Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chad, Chile, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, the EU, Fiji, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Moldova, Montenegro, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, the UAE, the UK, the US, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

To commemorate their visit, guests were presented with a beautiful stone hand-painted by children featuring an image of the temple.

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