Thousands of devotees from across the globe joined priests during the mahapuja or grand prayer, which was a part of the shilanyas ceremony of the traditional Hindu temple. The foundation stone laying ceremony of the first Hindu temple was held on 20th April (Saturday). In Abu Dhabi, inside the large, white tents, over 2500 people from the region, as well as from the UK, US, and Africa were seated and echoed the verses in the Sanskrit language that were chanted by priests.
As a part of the ritual, the priests poured a mixture of water, yoghurt, honey and ghee over a small, gold-plated deity in the centre of the tent.
Each devotee was seated in front of a puja thali, or prayer tray, that consisted of an image of Hindu idols, a piece of the foundation stone, marigold flowers, rose petals, a sacred thread, vermillion powder, rice and water. Each stone that was blessed would be part of the temple’s foundation.
His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance, along with other ministers, diplomats and priests rained flower petals and sprinkled holy water which was brought from three rivers in India. The symbolic stone blocks were laid which would eventually become the base of the temple.
A volunteer stated that the stones would be put into the ground and on top of that the entire mandir would be constructed. Hence, it’s a beautiful moment. He added that Shilanyas is a Vedic ritual where the foundation stones of the mandir [temple] are being purified and blessed
After a two-hour prayer service, the main shila, or foundation stone, which was hand-carved with symbols of nature, was placed in the ground. The ceremony was carried out in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj, president of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a religious and social organization that would be constructing and managing the temple.