Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 May 2019

Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi to be spiritual home for Indian residents

Community gatherings, weddings and music programmes for children will be held on the temple's grounds

For Mitali Thakkar and many of the UAE's Indian residents, the first Hindu temple will be a spiritual home. Pawan Singh / The National 
For Mitali Thakkar and many of the UAE's Indian residents, the first Hindu temple will be a spiritual home. Pawan Singh / The National 

The UAE’s first Hindu temple will be a spiritual home for many of the country’s large contingent of Indian residents.

Thousands of worshippers flocked to Abu Dhabi on Saturday for the temple’s foundation stone ceremony.

The temple could open next year and Indians in the UAE are looking forward to forging lasting memories, with events such as wedding ceremonies to be held there.

Pooja Botadara, 27, said it would be a dream for her to get married in the temple, which will be built in the Abu Mureikha area of Abu Dhabi.

I was born in the UAE so I’m extremely excited to have a temple in the place I call my first home,” said the bank relationship manager.

Pooja Botadra said it would be her dream to get married in Abu Dhabi's new Hindu Temple. Pawan Singh / The National 
Pooja Botadra said it would be her dream to get married in Abu Dhabi's new Hindu Temple. Pawan Singh / The National 

“I have visited other places with temples and it brings a rich heritage. A temple can teach us values and keeps us closer to our roots. I am overwhelmed to have a temple in this country.”

Many residents either return to India to get married or hold traditional ceremonies at their homes or in hotels in the UAE

.

Ms Botadara recalled the time it took to scout suitable ­locations in India for her sister’s wedding two years ago.

“If I were to get married in Abu Dhabi, there would be no logistics to take care of,” she said.

“More people could be part of the event because I have so many friends and family here. What better place would there be to get married than in a temple that is so close to your heart.”

Another Indian born in the UAE, Mitali Chakkar, 29, said children would learn music and language in the community centres that will form part of the temple.

“It will be a place to worship God and also to discuss ideas, build lasting friendships and develop a strong sense of identity,” the finance manager said.

Mahant Swami Maharaj, spiritual leader, at the foundation ceremony of the first traditional Hindu Mandir in the UAE. Reem Mohammed / The National
Mahant Swami Maharaj, spiritual leader, at the foundation ceremony of the first traditional Hindu Mandir in the UAE. Reem Mohammed / The National

“We will finally have a place where we can celebrate our festivals and hold ceremonies.

“It’s a dream to have one place where so much can be taught, from dance to ancient Sanskrit scriptures.”

The classical temple, to be built on 5.5 hectares in the capital, will have several large halls open to people of all faiths.

The temple will be built by Baps Swaminarayan Sanstha, a religious organisation.

Dubai resident Raksha Patel said she expected the temple to be a major tourist attraction.

“We get visitors from all over the world and apart from taking them to Burj Khalifa, the fountains and other attractions, the new temple will be a big must-do on everyone’s list,” she said.

Her husband Dharmendra said it would be a central meeting point for the community.

I was happy it was described as a spiritual place because that cuts through all boundaries of religions,” said Mr Patel, 54, who runs a lighting control systems company.

“There is an open invitation for one and all to come to the temple and it will also give Indians a place where they can unite and celebrate.

“This is our opportunity to give back to the country where we’ve lived for so many years.”

He was among the 5,000 people at the foundation stone ceremony. “I never would have imagined I would be part of history in the making. There are no adequate words to express the joy I experienced.”

Updated: April 22, 2019 08:23 AM

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