Devotees and visitors to Abu Dhabi line up to participate in the construction of the capital’s first traditional Hindu stone temple.
Locals and tourists alike pray over bricks before bringing them to the Mureikha construction site where they will be added to the carved stone pillars.
The gesture symbolizes the community’s involvement in building what will be the largest Hindu shrine in the United Arab Emirates when completed in late 2023.
The foundations of the temple have been completed and its first three layers of carved stone have been installed, said Ashok Kotecha, president of BAPS Hindu Mandir, which is overseeing the construction.
The shrine will embody ancient stories of Hindu scriptures in its architecture.
Carved sandstone pillars, hand carved by Indian artisans, have been shipped to Abu Dhabi for the towering temple which will have five ornate domes and seven spiers, one for each emirate in the United Arab Emirates.
“Visitors will have the opportunity to see the mandir [temple] taking shape before their eyes, ”said Mr. Kotecha The National.
“Visitors will be able to see the construction of the intricately carved exterior walls and majestic pillars.”
Temple authorities decided last month to invite visitors to participate in prayers to bless the bricks and participate in the construction phase.
“The importance of this ceremony is that it allows you to truly be part of history in the making,” said Mr. Kotecha.
“The thoughts, love and wishes of visitors are captured in this ceremony and will allow their presence to reverberate over time as the temple rises high when completed.”
Gopi Krishnan Venugopal, a resident of Abu Dhabi, attended a ceremony on Friday with 40 relatives and friends.
“It is a great honor to be a part of the construction of the temple, even on a small scale,” said Mr. Venugopal, a Malaysian citizen who works in the oil and gas industry.
“We feel blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of the historic temple building event.
“To me, this means integrating the oldest civilization and tradition, in the form of a temple, with the diversity and inclusion of the United Arab Emirates.”
Mr. Venugopal’s wife, Rekha, and teenage daughter Priya joined him inside a large tent at the site where they recited prayers and sprinkled flowers and vermilion powder – a red substance often used during Hindu services – on the bricks.
The group then transported the bricks outside for later use in building the temple.
An exhibition area has been set up for visitors to learn more about the shrine and how the land for its construction was granted by the United Arab Emirates.
“My prayers are for a safe construction, thanking the leadership of the UAE for giving us this land,” Venugopal said.
“I also pray that this pandemic will go away so that more people can meet, come together and pray. “
The building will reproduce the traditional architecture of ancient temples in India and will not use iron reinforcements in its construction.
Masonry shipped from India will be assembled and adjusted on site, the process resembling a huge puzzle.
Its designs include prayer rooms, amphitheater, community center, library, children’s play area, parks, and food court.
Devotees from abroad can participate in the ceremony online. Others can visit the temple site on Fridays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. after registering on the temple website.
Update: December 30, 2021, 3:28 a.m.