The Middle East’s first traditional Hindu stone temple opens in Abu Dhabi on February 14, Valentine’s Day, the day dedicated to the expression of love and affection globally.

So, is the inauguration date of the temple linked to Valentine’s Day?

“No, it has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day,” clarified a top priest from the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, the socio-spiritual organisation behind the construction of the temple.

“The temple does represent love, peace, and harmony as envisioned by the BAPS spiritual leader, Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj. But the opening date being February 14 is for other reasons,” he said.

“It is the day of Basant Panchami, an auspicious day.”

Basant Panchami is the Hindu festival marking the onset of the spring season in India. The festival is dedicated to the worship of Saraswati, the deity of knowledge, wisdom, music, and arts. It is considered an auspicious time for new beginnings, especially for initiating children into learning and education.

“Also, according to the lunar calendar, February 14 is the birth anniversary of Shastriji Maharaj,” swami underlined. The late Shastriji Maharaj is the founder of BAPS Sanstha.

“So, it is a special occasion for various reasons and an apt day, according to the Hindu lunar calendar, for the opening of the BAPS Hindu Mandir,” the swami underscored.

Meanwhile, Yogi Trivedi, scholar and author of a biography of the Sanstha’s late spiritual leader Pramukh Swami Maharaj, said: “It’s no secret that love, tolerance, and harmony are the foundation of the temple. It’s such a blessed coincidence that the opening falls on a day when millions in the world also celebrate love.”

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