A new chapter in human history has been written in golden letters with the opening of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in the UAE, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after inaugurating the Middle East’s first traditional Hindu stone temple.

“A beautiful and divine temple has been inaugurated,” Modi said in the presence of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the present spiritual guru of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, who presided over the Vedic ceremony.

“This is a result of years of hard work,” Modi said and noted having a son-father relationship with Sanstha’s late spiritual leader His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who envisioned a temple in the UAE Capital way back in 1997. On Wednesday, Modi opened the hand-carved pink sandstone temple with a grand ceremony. “Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s dream has been fulfilled.”

Modi pointed out that the inauguration coincides with Basant Panchami, the Hindu festival marking the onset of the spring season in India, and the birth anniversary of the late Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of BAPS Sanstha.

“I hope this temple spreads the message of global harmony and unity.”

Modi praised the constant support offered by the UAE government and urged the audience to give a standing ovation to honour President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s contributions, which included a grant of 27 acres of land for the temple.

“My brother Sheikh Mohamed has been the biggest contributor to this temple. He has won over the hearts of 1.4 billion Indians.”

The Indian Prime Minister, visiting the temple for the first time since making the initial announcement in 2015, was amazed by the intrinsic work on stone, and spent quality time admiring the architectural marvel. Modi noted the new temple will be a remarkable addition to landmarks like Burj Khalifa, the Museum of the Future, and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Sheikh Nahyan, in his address, underlined the temple as an indication of the depth of friendship, trust, and cooperation between the two countries.

“Thank you so much for inviting me to the inauguration of this impressive BAPS Hindu temple. I share your excitement and hope this will function as a valuable part of your individual life as well as in the collective lives of your community. This temple will be a great success now and in the future.”

Sheikh Nahyan pointed out that the opening of the temple is the “beginning of something very special” in the lives of community members.

“The UAE is a tolerant country, where people from different places, religious and ethnic backgrounds live in peace, harmony and cooperation. You now have a new temple that will serve as a place of worship and a community centre for all,” Sheikh Nahyan said.

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Ashwani Kumar