The First Grand Diwali Annakut, not just in the UAE, but the whole of the Middle East was celebrated in Abu Dhabi on 9 November 2018 near the new BAPS Hindu Mandir site. More than 1,200 devoutly cooked vegetarian dishes and delicacies were offered. The vast decorated ascending steps displayed food designs that included the renowned Dubai Frame and Burj Khalifa along with hundreds of other creative patterns.
From 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. over 10,000 people, including 1,800 dignitaries and members of over 50 associations and communities, patiently queued up to behold the divine darshan. Local Arab leaders and officials came with their families to express their love and greetings. Continuous live bhajans sung by men, women and children from the Gurudwara Group, Mohana Group, Shri Swami Samarth Group, Amma Bhagwan Group, Shree Karam Group and the Nandagovindam Bhajan Group included the Gujarati, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Malyalam and Punjabi languages. These bhajans livened the event as visitors were awestruck by the deeply spiritual atmosphere and the management, magnitude and magnificence of the event.
Visitors had the opportunity to view a captivating exhibition giving an overview of the history and proposed plans of the upcoming BAPS Hindu Mandir and Cultural Complex, which will become an international beacon of global harmony and a spiritual landmark in Abu Dhabi. This exhibition portrayed the meaning, making and message of the new Mandir.
Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami and Brahmavihari Swami, especially graced this event, along with over 300 distinguished guests of the UAE including the Ambassador of India to the UAE Shri Navdeep Singh Suri, the Consul General of India, Shri Vipul, Hamad Al Mannai, Director of Public Utility Associations Department for the UAE, and Dr. Adel Ahmed, a renowned lawyer.
Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami conveyed his best wishes and prayers, “May all the rulers, ministers and residents of the UAE and the Middle-East be blessed with the best of healtod Government of India to build the temple.
This auspicious ceremony at the temple site in Abu Dhabi was streamed live to the special assembly at the Dubai Opera, where the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narenda Modi, in the presence of over 1,700 Indian and Emirati dignitaries from all walks of life, unveiled a model of the traditional stone temple that will be built. In his address, the Prime Minister thanked the Crown Prince H.E. Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan for providing the land and permission for building a traditional temple. He further added, “The first traditional temple in Abu Dhabi will act as a catalyst for the fluorishment of humanitarian values and harmony between the two countries. The temple will become a medium for India’s identity.”
On the temple land, the ceremony to sanctify the stones that will be placed in the temple foundations was performed in a large marquee with a beautiful large cut out of the temple model forming the stage backdrop.
Several thousand devotees from all over the world, well-wishers and guests participated in the Shila Pujan ceremony at Abu Mureikheh, marking the first step in the construction of the traditional stone temple. Representatives of all Indian religious denominations and communities, as well as, representatives of the Jain, Sikh, Muslim, Christian and other faith communities also attended the auspicious ceremony. In particular, Pujya Gurudev Shri Rakeshbhai, a respected Jain guru and founder of the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission in Dharampur, India, participated in the Vedic rituals.
Commenting, the Consul General of India, Shri Vipulji, said, “This is a historic event, rightly called the millennial moment. The first traditional stone temple built by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha shall serve the needs of the entire community. Closely working with their hundreds of volunteers and saints, I know the selfless spirit with which they dedicate themselves. The temple and its activities shall be path-breaking for promoting love, tolerance and harmony in the UAE and the neighbouring regions.”
Also, Dr B.R. Shetty, Founder & Chairman of NMC Healthcare and Chairman of UAE Exchange, and a leading member of the temple committee said, “I am speechless. The generosity of the rulers of the UAE, the clarity of India’s Prime Minister and the integrity and ability of the BAPS is incredible. We are soon going to have an iconic temple complex that will serve everyone for generations to come.”
The temple, inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and blessed by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, will be a significant symbol of global peace and harmony.