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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Dubai Banker’s Bold Transition to Volunteer at Abu Dhabi BAPS Hindu Mandir

Dubai Banker’s Bold Journey from Corporate Success to Impactful Volunteerism at Abu Dhabi BAPS Hindu Mandir

Vishal Patel, a Dubai-based investment banker, embarked on a remarkable journey of service and dedication as the Middle East’s first traditional Hindu temple, the BAPS Hindu Mandir, began to take shape in the UAE capital. Leaving behind his lucrative career at the Dubai International Financial Centre, the 43-year-old family man chose to devote himself full-time to serving at the Abu Dhabi temple.

Dubai Banker's Bold Journey
Dubai Banker’s Bold Journey

Hailing from the UK, Vishal’s lifelong association with the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha has been a guiding force in his life, with the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London holding a special place in his heart. Relocating to Dubai coincided with the Sanstha’s selection for the construction and administration of the Abu Dhabi temple project, presenting Vishal with an opportunity he couldn’t resist.

“Since 2016, my family and I have resided in the UAE. Previously, my career always took precedence as I held positions at renowned investment banks and hedge funds. However, supporting this Mandir in the UAE allowed me to make a meaningful impact on society and engage in endeavors that contribute to the greater good. This opportunity was too significant to overlook,” explained Vishal, who served as an executive director at a leading investment research firm until last year.

Vishal’s involvement with the Mandir in Dubai has been hands-on from the beginning. He actively participated in the construction process, working tirelessly on the building site, from erecting protective fences on barren land to pouring concrete. Additionally, he contributed to serving food to guests and visitors. Currently, in a voluntary capacity as the chief communications officer for the Mandir, Vishal oversees various responsibilities, including media relations and strategic communications.

Providing insight into the motivation behind his and thousands of other volunteers’ dedication to the Sanstha, Vishal emphasized the teachings of unity, fraternity, and solidarity imparted by spiritual leaders like Mahant Swami Maharaj. He recounted how the foresight of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head overseeing the construction of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London in 1995, influenced his own journey.

“I used to play football and cricket inside the London Mandir’s gym, which was suggested by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. That’s how I began my association with the Mandir. Later, I became involved in volunteering activities, deepening my understanding of how BAPS serves society. This foresight positively impacted children like me,” Vishal reflected.

“Our spiritual leaders, Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj, have left a lasting impact on young minds and inspired many to devote their time and efforts from all corners of the world,” he added.

Vishal’s trajectory also highlights how volunteerism can intersect with career advancement. A second-generation Indian expatriate from Gujarat raised in London, Vishal faced challenges in the job market during economic downturns. However, his dedication to volunteering at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London ultimately led to a career breakthrough.

“After meeting a senior director at Merrill Lynch through volunteering, I received invaluable advice on entering the investment banking industry. It was a pivotal moment for me, demonstrating that opportunities can arise from dedication to volunteering,” Vishal recounted.

Subsequently, Vishal and other young volunteers organized a career fair at the London temple, offering guidance to students and job seekers, thereby exemplifying how the Mandir fosters not only spiritual growth but also professional development and community support.

“The Mandir in London has profoundly impacted my life and others associated with it. That’s why you see youths dedicating themselves as volunteers in BAPS. The Mandir has provided them with a strong foundation, and that’s precisely in Dubai what this¬† Abu Dhabi Mandir will provide here. We aspire to serve society, fostering harmony and unity,” Vishal emphasized, praising the UAE leadership for their support of the Abu Dhabi temple project.


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