Abu Dhabi, UAE
In a remarkable display of unity and mutual respect, ambassadors representing more than 30 nations gathered at the sprawling 27-acre construction site of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi, UAE. This momentous visit aimed to promote intercultural understanding and provided esteemed guests with an opportunity to witness the progress of the region’s first traditional Hindu mandir, a symbol of universal values such as tolerance and harmony.
The dedicated directors and volunteers overseeing the mandir’s construction warmly welcomed more than 85 esteemed guests. The dignitaries were adorned with garlands and were welcomed with a traditional tying of a sacred thread. The ambassadors were provided with a comprehensive overview of the mandir’s historical significance, construction process, and expected impact through captivating video presentations and personal narratives.
His Excellency Sunjay Sudhir, Indian ambassador to the UAE, highlighted the long-standing friendship between India and the UAE, rooted in history, culture and trade. He praised the tolerance and generosity of the UAE leadership and added, “This mandir represents the collective aspirations of faith of the broad Indian community living in the UAE, especially the saints and volunteers of BAPS who are serving tirelessly and selflessly to build this mandir of tolerance and harmony.”
Dr. S. Jaishankar, the Minister of External Affairs of India, conveyed his hopes for the significance of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in the UAE and the world through a heartfelt video message. He shared his hopes of what the mandir would mean for UAE and the world as well as his deep respect for the vision and direction of the UAE leadership. He emphasized that one of the most touching and fulfilling moments of his life was the announcement and now seeing the BAPS Hindu Mandir coming up. He added, “Real change is when different cultures connect with each other respectfully encompassing equality and fairness”.
Pujya Brahmaviharidas Swami, Head Swami of BAPS Hindu Mandir, Abu Dhabi, warmly welcomed the ambassadors and their families, “Celebrating the past, addressing the present and recalibrating the future, BAPS Hindu Mandir amalgamates ancient art and architecture, modern science and technology, universal values and spirituality. Your presence here sends a hopeful message of harmony and is a testament to the belief that dialogue, exchange, and engagement can bring us all closer together and make this world a happier place.”
He also thanked both the UAE and Indian leaderships, “We are equally grateful to HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Hon. Shri Narendra Modi. They are both visionary leaders who have encouraged pluralism and harmony. It is our hope that through this mandir, we will be able to serve the UAE and the world for millennia to come as a spiritual oasis for global harmony.”
Following the informative briefing, the distinguished guests embarked on a guided tour of the construction site, participating in a symbolic act of sprinkling flowers on the bricks that will form the mandir. The ambassadors were captivated by the mesmerizing intricate carvings and delicate designs, which beautifully embodied the timeless values of India and ancient civilizations. They were astonished to discover that the mandir’s façade immortalized cultural tales from Arabian, Mayan, Greek, and other civilizations, promoting peace, tolerance, and harmony. The artisans, without using any steel reinforcements, meticulously pieced together these artworks like a magnificent stone jigsaw, ensuring the mandir’s endurance for centuries to come.
Ambassador H.E. Dr. Richard Kay of New Zealand expressed his profound delight, stating, “The mandir is a cultural asset that will be a fantastic addition to the skyline of the UAE.”
Similarly, the Ambassador of Japan, H.E. Akio Isomata was immensely moved, stating, “I am overwhelmed with the Indian craftmanship. I see a philosophy of tolerance in the carvings.”
H.E. Aminath Shabeena, Ambassador of the Maldives, said, “One must truly visit and witness the detailed carvings and heartfelt emotions of the volunteers.” She was moved by the designs, stating, “The most striking carvings represent the flora and fauna of India and the UAE.”
The Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Amir Hayek, said, “This monument is being constructed in a country built on tolerance and will most certainly contribute to harmony in the region and the world.” He also tweeted immediately after his visit, “I have no doubt that the mandir will be a source of attraction for visitors from all over the world”.
To commemorate their visit, the ambassadors were presented a beautifully crafted miniature model of the mandir. The ambassadors’ visit was a significant step in promoting peace, fostering cultural interaction, and strengthening diplomatic ties between the participating countries and the United Arab Emirates. The BAPS Hindu Mandir stands as an embodiment of unity, diversity, and the shared values of tolerance and harmony embraced by the global community.