After inaugurating the project for the first Hindu shrine to be built in Abu Dhabi, Prime Minister Modi will visit the Shiva Temple in Muscat on Monday. Also known as Motishwar Mandir, the temple was constructed 109 years ago and is situated near Sultan’s Palace, about 35km from Seeb Airport.
The temple has a Gujarat connection, too. It is believed to have been constructed by the Bhatia merchant community from Kutch, which settled in Muscat as early as 1507. The power the community wielded in Muscat, said to be the first home for Gujarati traders away from the subcontinent. can be seen through the various temples and shrines that have come up in Oman’s capital since the 16th century. Historical accounts reveal that the Gujarati families had so much authority in the beginning of the 19th century that they persuaded Oman’s sultan Syed Said (1791-1856) to shift his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar.
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Even though Muscat is a desert, there is a well inside the premises of the Shiva temple that is said to have water throughout the year. During Mahashivaratri, more than 20,000 Hindus flock to the temple through day and night. The temple has three deities: Shri Adi Motishwar Mahadev Temple, Shri Motishwar Mahadev Temple and Shri Hanumanji Temple. Apart from Shivaratri, other festivals like Vasant Panchmi, Ramnavmi, Hanuman Jayanti, Shravan month and Ganesh Chaturthi are also celebrated at the temple, which serves a platform for the Hindu community to unite in Muscat. There are three priests in the temple along with three support staff and four administrative staff, besides a whole gamut of volunteers rendering their services.
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