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All preparations are in place to hold the 'Shilanyas Vidhi' (foundation stone laying ceremony) of the first traditional Hindu stone temple in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, representatives said. The ceremony will begin at 9am in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha - the religious and social organisation building the temple.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, will grace the occasion along with social and spiritual leaders from across the world. Thousands of followers are set to throng to Abu Mureikha, near Al Rahba, to witness the four-hour ceremony.

It was on Thursday that Sheikh Nahyan received Swami Maharaj and his delegation of Hindu priests at Al Maktoum International Airport. Swami Maharaj and Sheikh Nahyan were showered with flowers by children dressed in traditional costumes. Swami Maharaj prayed for the good health and prosperity of the rulers and people of the UAE as well as residents in the region.

The main ceremony will see the priests sanctify pink sandstones that will be used to set foundation of the temple. All these stones are transported from Indian state of Rajasthan.

It isn't clear as to when the temple will be completed but it will take few years. The temple will be a cultural complex with art gallery, halls, library, gym and more facilities.

Temple volunteers said there was a special orientation conducted where devotees were told details of today's ceremony. Passes were distributed for 'yajman seva' for those who have made a donation of Dh2,500 or Dh5,000 to participate in the shilanyas ritual and support the BAPS temple.
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