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Baps Mandir Hosts Its First Indian Wedding

When Harsh Kanjani initially visited the Baps Hindu Mandir in October, the temple was still under construction. Originally scheduled to marry in November, Harsh and his bride-to-be, Kanchan Kanjani (nee Raisinghani), decided to postpone their wedding by several months due to the ongoing construction.

Choosing a wedding date at a venue under construction was a risk, but it turned out to be a successful decision. Harsh and Kanchan became the first couple to tie the knot in the temple on March 2.

“We were initially apprehensive since the mandir was supposed to open to the public on March 1, but everything worked out beautifully and for the best,” Harsh shared.

Despite the couple's outfits being ready on time – a light pink sherwani for Harsh and a red-on-red lehenga for Kanchan – the status of the Abu Dhabi venue was uncertain. Nevertheless, they became the inaugural couple to marry in the mandir, even gaining the special privilege of exchanging garlands on top of the temple’s stairs.

Harsh explained, “While the organizing committee initially agreed, the main swami declared it could not be done. However, as they had already promised us, they followed through.”

Executing the garland exchange wasn't easy. Kanchan described the careful steps they had to take on a small stage at the top, ensuring balance while their family and friends stood at the base of the stairs.

The Kanjanis, both 31, originally planned to marry in India but struggled to find a suitable hotel. Harsh's mother contacted the temple, and three days later, they received a positive response, leading to them being the first wedding in the temple.

The two-day wedding festivities included a henna and haldi ceremony, a sangeet at Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi, and the main wedding day. The Kanjanis opted for a unique baraat, with both families dancing from the entrance to the main complex of the temple.

The wedding ceremony took place in the sprawling banquet hall, accommodating over 2,000 people, even though they had 750 guests. The couple followed a brief and relatable ceremony, with Indian classical singer Ankit Batra translating vows and hymns into English.

After the pheras ended, a surreal surprise awaited the couple. Led to the temple's amphitheatre, all guests participated in a pre-arranged 10-minute aarti, blessing the newlyweds with electric diyas lighting up the arena.

Reflecting on their journey, Harsh and Kanchan highlighted their initial encounter at the incomplete temple site, where they were invited to lay bricks for the facade. “A special puja has been held for every single brick that makes up the temple,” Kanchan explained. “It's only just sinking in how lucky we are to be part of such a unique and blessed experience.

March 9, 2024 5 p.m. 1642

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