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 health and success in all their endeavours. May all be graced with inner peace, prosperity, happiness and success in all ventures. This is an extraordinary event and we are all most fortunate to be present.”
Brahmavihari Swami, expressed his appreciation to all the visitors, “We convey our deepest gratitude to the Government of the UAE who have generously donated the land for the Mandir. This celebration has brought together people from different backgrounds and cultures and we pray and wish to reciprocate this generosity shown by the rulers of the UAE by gifting back an exclusive landmark for many generations to come.”
Ambassador Shri Navdeep Singh Suri also shared his sentiments on this occasion saying, "The work of BAPS, particularly the temple, is not ordinary... it builds universal faith and makes India proud."
While Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami blessed the event, Brahmavihari Swami thanked the rulers and the community leaders for their support.
This event, organized and planned by over 200 volunteers, deeply touched and moved the guests and visitors. Many women were awestruck upon seeing their delicacies displayed in the grand Annakut, and numerous guests were touched by the messages of the exhibition with the pride that this unique project is something that shall outlive and outlast us.