His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj arrived in Abu Dhabi on 5 February 2024 as a state guest of the UAE to preside over the historic inauguration of a Hindu temple.
The BAPS Hindu Mandir will become the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East. The magnificent structure, located in the Abu Mureikhah district of Abu Dhabi, stands as a testament to the enduring friendship between India and the UAE, embodying the spirit of cultural harmony and collaboration.
The project has been made possible through the graciousness and generosity of the UAE government and its rulers. In 2015, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, donated 13.5 acres of land for the construction of the Mandir. The UAE Government, during its Year of Tolerance, allocated a further 13.5 acres of land in January 2019 – making a total of 27 acres of land gifted for the Mandir.
Upon arrival at the airport, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj was warmly greeted by His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance for the UAE. His Excellency said to His Holiness, “Welcome to the UAE. Our nation is blessed with your presence. We are touched by your kindness and we feel your prayers.” In response, Mahant Swami Maharaj warmly replied, “We are touched by your love and respect. The leaders of the UAE are great, good, and large-hearted.”
Reflective of his status as a state guest, Mahant Swami Maharaj was welcomed in honorific Arabic style by a troupe of dancers, drummers and chanters performing the Al-Ayyala, an expressive traditional cultural performance usually reserved for national holidays and welcome ceremonies of visiting heads of state.
At the Mandir site, thousands of devotees and well-wishers from across the Gulf countries as well as the rest of the world had gathered in eager anticpation to devotionally welcome Mahant Swami Maharaj. The entire campus had been decorated with auspicious symbols, including messages of ‘Welcome’ in Sanskrit, Arabic, English, and Gujarati.
The inauguration of the iconic BAPS Hindu Mandir will be celebrated through the ‘Festival of Harmony’ – a series of uplifting programmes and community events focussed on strengthening faith, mobilising community service, and inspiring harmony among people of all generations and backgrounds.
The ‘Festival of Harmony’ will include the grand inauguration ceremony of the Mandir on Wednesday 14 February in the presence of esteemed dignitaries, including Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi.
Brahmaviharidas Swami, who has been overseeing the Mandir project under the guidance of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, explained, “The BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi serves as a spiritual oasis for global harmony that celebrates the past and recalibrates the future. It is a timeless testament to the spirituality of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the generosity, sincerity and friendship of the leaderships of the UAE, India and BAPS.”