Nearly 64 years after the construction of the first Hindu temple, the small Dubai Hindu Temple complex — which houses the Shiva and Krishna Mandir, dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna, in the Bur Dubai heritage area — the Hindu community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will soon have its first large, independent and traditional temple within the Churches Complex in Jebel Ali Village in southern Dubai. The area includes a number of churches for Copts, Syriacs and Evangelists, in addition to the Guru Nanak Darbar Temple for Sikhs, which was built in 2012.
The Sindhi Guru Darbar Temple will be the second Hindu temple in the UAE but also the first independent temple to be officially inaugurated on Oct. 5 this year in the presence of religious and official figures. The date was chosen because it coincides with the Hindu festival Dussehra, which commemorates the victory of Rama (a Hindu deity) over the 10-headed demon, King Ravana, who kidnapped Rama's wife, Sita.
Al-Monitor’s correspondent visited the construction site of the new temple — which is adjacent to the Guru Nanak Darbar Temple in Jebel Ali Village — after obtaining approval from the Community Development Authority in Dubai (CDA) and the temple administration.
Al-Monitor met with the general manager of the new temple, N. Mohan, who allowed filming of specific spots inside the temple so as not to reveal all of the interior details before the official opening date.
Mohan told Al-Monitor, “The temple is built on an area of 70,000 square feet spread over two large floors built in a rectangular geometric shape. The first floor includes a large prayer hall whose ceiling is topped by the pink lotus flower, which symbolizes beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality and immortality among the Hindus. On the sides and corners of the hall, small rooms were allocated for 16 Hindu deities, as well as a separate room for the god Brahma.”
He added, “We obtained building permits from the CDA in September 2021, and the project will be completed before the end of September at the latest. After the engineering company hands over the project, we will place the statues that embody our adored deities.”
In addition to the main prayer hall, the first floor includes a 4,000-square-foot room that will be allocated for religious and social occasions, including funeral prayers, wedding ceremonies, religious lessons and other events.
The second floor includes offices for the administration and a large kitchen, where free food is prepared and distributed for visitors during certain times. Sikhs and Hindus usually offer certain types of food in their temple in honor of the worshippers and visitors.
The large outer balcony of the second floor includes sacred rooms, namely a platform dedicated to the worship of the nine planets and another platform for the Tulsi plant, which symbolizes wealth and sustenance — its reverence is similar to the reverence of the god of riches, Lakshmi — in addition to a platform dedicated to burning offerings on specific occasions.
Mohan said, “We expect huge numbers from the 1.4 million Hindus residing in the UAE, mostly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to visit the temple. We also expect tourists and residents from other religions to visit. This is why we will also create an online platform for visitors to reserve their visits between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily. We cannot receive more than 1,000 visitors per day due to the precautionary measures we need to abide by for health safety.”
He added, “We expect huge numbers to arrive during the weekends. A large part of our community travels by public transport and others use their own cars, and we are very aware of this. We are working with the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) to increase the number of buses near the metro station, in particular the Ibn Battuta Metro Station and Energy Metro Station, from which visitors take rides to the Churches Complex. We are also consulting with the management of the Festival Plaza mall to allow visitors to park their cars in their parking lots, at least on holidays.”
“The Sindhi Guru Darbar Temple will open its doors in two stages: the first on Oct. 5, which is the opening of the prayer hall, and then the second floor will be inaugurated on Dec. 14, 2023, which coincides with the Makar Sankranti festival, which is one of the rare blessed days that are celebrated according to the solar cycle. This day is dedicated to the glorification of the sun god,” he said.
Before the Sindhi Guru Darbar Temple, there was a project to lay the foundation stone for the largest and first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi and the Gulf region in April 2019. However, due to certain circumstances, the project was not completed and work was carried out instead on the new temple in Dubai. The other two small Hindu temples in the Gulf are located in Bahrain and Oman.