‘Stone seva’: Indian children in Abu Dhabi giving final shape to gifts for attendees of first Hindu temple inauguration

ABU DHABI, Feb 12: Over 100 Indian school children here are busy painting “tiny treasure” stones which will be gifted as memoirs to the guests attending the inauguration of the first stone Hindu temple here in the UAE’s capital on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the UAE.
The children have been offering “stone seva” at the temple site every Sunday for three months and are now giving the final touch to the gifts called “tiny treasures”. For 12-year-old Tithi Patel, stone seva is a weekend activity which she enjoys with her friend.
”We collected leftover stones and small rocks at the temple site. We then washed and polished them followed by a layer of primer and then paint. Each rock has a motivational quote on one side and any part of the temple painted on the other side,” she told PTI.
Reva Karia, 8, who spent this Sunday packing the stones in gift boxes, said they have named the gift “tiny treasure” because children are making them with their tiny hands.
“The stone will make the guests remember their first visit to the grand temple. For me, this has been an experience of teamwork, a weekly outing with friends and a creative activity. I come with my parents here and they also offer their seva at parts of the temple,” she said.
Aarnav Thakkar, 11, said the designs being painted on the stones are reflections of affirmation and represent peace, love and harmony.
“They are later varnished so they can last for many years as the temple,” he said. Thakkar said they will continue to do this activity for a few months so that when the temple is opened to the public, the visitors in the initial months can get the gift.
The BAPS Hindu Mandir, located in Abu Mureikhah, near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway, has come up on around 27 acres of land in Abu Dhabi and the work for the structure has been going on since 2019. The land for the temple was donated by the UAE government.
The UAE has three other Hindu temples that are located in Dubai. The BAPS temple, spread over a large area with stone architecture, will be the largest of all in the Gulf region.
Prime Minister Modi will pay a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) beginning Tuesday during which he will inaugurate the grand temple on February 14.
During his visit, Modi will address the Indian community at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. The UAE has at least 3.5 million Indians who are part of the Indian workforce in the Gulf.
The temple’s facade features exquisite marble carvings set against a sandstone backdrop, crafted from more than 25,000 pieces of stone by skilled artisans from Rajasthan and Gujarat. A substantial number of pink sandstone were transported from northern Rajasthan to Abu Dhabi for the temple.
According to the temple authorities, 40,000 cubic feet of marble have been used to build the interiors. (PTI)