India is a mystic land, a home of over 3.5 million mandirs, small and big, ancient and recent, which have actually helped generations of Hindus to sustain the daily life and progress on the path of spirituality. The spirit of coexistence and inclusiveness of Indian community has spread wherever they have settled. This time, a mandir in the Abu Dhabi will give the community a great reason to resonate with India.
Hindu mandirs have made great societal impact and contributions towards personal and social harmony. With all the enthusiasm and intrigue, when the shilanyas (Ground breaking & Foundation stone laying ceremony) day of a Hindu Mandir is to dawn on 11 Feb with PM Modi being present as chief guest there, it will herald the new era, where a Hindu community in UAE of over 3.3 million people will have a traditional Hindu stone mandir to rejoice their faith. The organization that will carry out the planning, construction and management is BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha; the same organization that has created world-renowned spiritual cultural mandir complexes such as Swaminarayan Akshardham in Delhi, Gandhinagar and upcoming in New Jersey, USA.
The dedicated efforts of the sadhus and devotees of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and Hindu community have culminated in the historic creation of the Mandir in UAE. The mandir complex would encompass assembly halls, exhibitions, thematic gardens, sports arena, water features, food court and a books and souvenir shop. The mandir will be a place to showcase India’s glorious culture, spiritual wisdom and universal appeal of Hinduism through interfaith dialogues.
A brief outline of spiritual activity and groundwork in UAE:
Hindus have settled in Gulf counties for many decades. To help sustain the value system, cultural, spiritual system and traditions, many have strived. P. Pramukh Swami Maharaj, spiritual head of BAPS (7 Dec 1921 – 13 Aug 2016, the 5th spiritual successor of BAPS) visited this region many a time since 1982. In 1985, 1997 and 2001, by visiting UAE and other middle east countries on many occasions; He and sadhus inspired Indian community about fostering values of righteous living and spiritual upliftment. On various occasions, they also used to meet various national leaders and representatives from Govt. and other sectors.
In Apr 2001, As part of their spiritual travelogue, P. Pramukh Swami Maharaj and sadhus met Sheikh Hamed Bin Majid Al-Qassimi – Minister of Justice of UAE and cousin brother of the Sheikh of Sharjah – Sheikh Dr Sultan. The Sheikh said, “You are doing good work. Spreading world peace can be done through saints like you … I hope this will not be our last meeting. I wish that we meet again and again.”
P. Pramukh Swami Maharaj & BAPS sadhus in UAE, Apr 2001
In Oct 2009 also, BAPS sadhus visited this region as part of their spiritual activities.
In August 2013, BAPS sadhus met the members of the royal family and other leaders to convey the message of peace, goodwill and interfaith harmony. These included meeting with HH Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Culture, Youth and Social Development and HH Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum. The sadhus also met the vice-chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, Dr Taiyeb Kamali.
The new BAPS Cultural Centre in Dubai was inaugurated. The murti pratishtha vidhi was performed here.
BAPS Sadhus, devotees and guests doing Arti at BAPS Cultural Centre, Dubai in August 2013
In March 2016, over 1100 distinguished members of local Indian and Emirati community remained present to celebrate the launch of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s book ‘Transcendence: My Spiritual Experiences with Pramukh Swamiji’. Sheikh Nahyan and other guests applauded the book where Dr Kalam recounted the journey of his spiritual transformation by P. Pramkh Swamiji and had shared his holistic vision for India and the world in the book.
Launch of Dr A.P.J Kalam’s book Transcendence
In Sept 2016, in The Sheikh Rashid Auditorium at the Indian High School in Dubai, the memorial assembly drew people from all communities and faith to pay a reverent tribute to P. Pramukh Swami Maharaj. The new traditional Hindu temple is estimated to have completed within 3 years, probably by 2020.
Tribute ceremony to P. Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Sheikh Rashid Auditorium, Dubai, UAE
In the tradition of great mandirs throughout the corners of India since ancient times, today, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha has revived the glory of mandir making in its pristine form, by creating more than 1200 mandirs and the Swaminarayan Akshardhams ,which have become the centres of to preserve Sanatan Dharma’s spiritual traditions, sustain the cultural values with a technologically stunning portrayal of art and architecture of India. Indians and Hindus living in India, Europe, Africa, Middle East, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other counties and continents have become reattached to Indian Culture and traditions due to these mandirs.
These mandirs in the form of Akshardhams and other such many BAPS mandirs in London, Nairobi, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Toronto, have revived Vedic architectural science that could be seen in India and outside, for ex. In the Sun Chariot Mandir in Konark, the soaring pinnacles of Tirupati, the delicate forms of Belur-Somnathpuri, the robust gateway of Madurai Meenakshi mandir, the awe-inspiring parikrama in Rameshwar and many more.
(Swaminarayan Akshardham inauguration, Mandir fosters spirituality, social service & national integration)
Not only various parts of worship, devotion, prayer and meditation in mandir would help one to move a step further towards strengthening one’s true identity, but these mandirs have been generators of a vast number of social activities, those serve society in building schools, hospitals, mobile dispensaries, gigantic relief works, anti addiction drives, tribal upliftment, Environmental awareness drives, thousands of children, youth and women assemblies worldwide, those provide opportunities to serve society in all manners along with holistic development of children, youth and all individuals.Highly educated 1200 BAPS sadhus and more than 55000 youth perform creation of mandirs and contribute in multiple socio-spirituo activities with the utmost devotion and precision.BAPS is in consultative status with Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Let’s all get inspired in the new mandir at Abu Dhabi and enjoy a better tomorrow.
“The Swaminarayan temples and Akshardhams are indeed the sanctuaries of pious and virtuous living. They are abodes of peace and beacons of hope, rescuing people from the bottomless pit of self-indulgence, and, through service, reminding them of their true selves and allowing to become wholesome human beings. An increasing number of people, particularly in the developed world, are finding freedom from superficial relationships, trivial communications and the constant noise that pervade the modern world, in the counsel of and guidance of BAPS saints. May this divine presence increase! “
Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam, in “Transcendence”, Introduction section, page xiv.
New Delhi, May 2015, Publisher: HarperCollins.
Articles in Swaminarayan Prakash (Gujarati), Swaminarayan Bliss (English) published by Swaminarayan Aksharpith, BAPS. An introductory video by eterpride.com, www.divyabhaskar.co.in, Feb 9 article.
BAPS News Archives & articles from www.baps.org