Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar arrived at the site of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi along with Vashu Bhagnani, a famous Indian film producer, and Jiten Doshi, a prominent businessman. Akshay Kumar was welcomed by Swami Brahmaviharidas with a garland of flowers. Eager to understand the history of the mandir, Akshay Kumar and the delegation were led into the Rivers of Harmony exhibition.
The exhibition gives a fascinating glimpse into the origins of the mandir, which was envisioned through a prayer for harmony and peace by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 1997. Fast-forward three decades and the mandir, which is scheduled to open in February 2024, stands as a testament to the power of that prayer as well as an answer to the universal prayer of millions for a more harmonious world.
Thereafter, Akshay Kumar and the delegation joined a gathering of the mandir’s board of directors and key volunteers. Here, Swami Brahmaviharidas shared the almost magical history of the project’s conception and development. In a nod to Akshay Kumar and the film industry professionals present, Swami said, “This project is scripted in heaven and is now being screenplayed here on earth.” The atmosphere was electrifying, and the guests were left with a deep sense of awe and appreciation for the magnitude of this unprecedented endeavor.
Later, Akshay Kumar and the delegation participated in a puja ceremony to place a brick in the construction of the mandir. Here, they joined the more than 40,000 people who have already placed bricks to help in the construction of the mandir as part of the ‘Giving Harmony a Hand’ project.
Captivated by the irresistible allure of the mandir, Akshay Kumar and the delegation donned hard hats and ascended the grand staircase of the mandir with anticipation. At the top, they were greeted by a breathtaking view of the mandir. Despite currently being a construction site, the tranquil energy of the mandir soothed all those present. Swami Brahmaviharidas led the delegation on a tour of the mandir exploring the breathtaking design and architecture crafted entirely from magnificent pink Rajasthani stones and Italian marble, with not a single trace of steel. Akshay Kumar was mesmerized to see the intricate carvings beneath each of the seven spires housing different deities. The carvings, which wrap around the plinth of the mandir, depict the life story of the respective divinity, and showcase the unparalleled craftsmanship and devotion in the construction of the mandir.
The delegation also viewed the location where 14 international value tales from ancient civilizations will be carved – a unique feature not found in any other mandir around the world. There, Swami Brahmaviharidas shared a tale from the Babemba tribe in Africa: the story reflects the concept of Ubuntu, which translates to ‘humanity towards others’. In this tribe, if anyone commits a crime, the entire tribe stops their work and circles the person who committed the crime for two days. During this time, they speak only of the person’s praises, refusing to acknowledge the wrongdoing. This story struck a chord with Akshay Kumar, to which he said, “This is very heart touching”.
As his visit came to an end, Kumar made a point to meet with the group of volunteers and contributors, thanking them for their tireless efforts in bringing this beautiful project to life.
A visit originally meant to be 40 minutes, turned into a two-hour journey of discovery and appreciation for Akshay Kumar and his delegation.
Reflecting on his visit, Akshay Kumar said, “You are creating history…What you are creating is not just a service to our community, but to mankind. Creating a new world where there is peace, love, and support from one human to another; there truly is nothing more powerful than that… ‘Love can move mountains’ is a true testimony to your efforts… truly overwhelming! It’s a dream of dreams!”
Both Akshay Kumar and Brahmavihari Swami expressed deep gratitude for the generosity and vision of HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahayan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, and the continuous support of the Prime Minister of India, Honorable Narendra Modi, in making this spiritual oasis of global harmony a reality in the United Arab Emirates.
The BAPS Hindu Mandir is not just a testament to the power of human possibility but more importantly, it is a testament to tolerance, love and peace, and a symbol of hope for a brighter, more harmonious future.