Tolerance is soul of UAE, says Hindu priest

DUBAI: The upcoming first Hindu temple in the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi represents a unique diversity and fraternity, a senior Hindu priest has said.

The UAE is celebrating 2019 as the ‘Year of Tolerance’.

In February last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Swaminarayan temple of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha through video conferencing from Dubai.

Sadhu Brahma Viharidas, who is in charge of the Middle East at BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha that will build and manage the temple, said Sunday that the UAE is a unique example for tolerance.

“A Muslim country gave the land for the temple. It is being designed by an Irish Catholic and the consultant is a communist atheist,” he was quoted as saying by the Gulf News.

“A foreign journalist once asked me whether tolerance in the UAE was only cosmetic? I said ‘Not at all. It is not skin deep, tolerance is the soul of the UAE’,” the priest said while addressing the opening session of the Global Conference on Human Fraternity at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.

He said that tolerance and human fraternity is not just a beautiful word or meaningful idea or value here.

“In the UAE, they are verbs and not nouns. Verbs means they are in action. We can write poetry and hold conferences but unless they are in action… they are meaningless,” Viharidas said.

He called on the followers of all religions to focus on improving human relations.

“If we upgrade the world, but downgrade human relationships, everything is worthless,” the priest said.

He also heaped praises on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who donated the land for the temple.

The temple will come up on 55,000 square metres of land. The structure will be hand-carved by Indian artisans and assembled in the UAE. It will be completed by 2020 and open to people of all religious backgrounds.

It will be the first traditional Hindu stone temple in West Asia, said a spokesperson of the Sanstha, a socio-spiritual Hindu organisation set up in 1907. It runs over 1,100 temples and cultural centres around the world.

The temple will be a replica of the one in New Delhi and another under construction in New Jersey. (AGENCIES)


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