Dubai's Hindu temple extends opening hours amid return to pre-pandemic life

Bur Dubai shrine's hours of operation almost back to normal but safety rules must still be followed

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The Hindu temple in Bur Dubai has restored opening hours to the levels of two years ago for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak.

Sindhi Guru Darbar will be open from 6am until noon and between 5pm to 9pm.

The temple shut down in March 2020 when Covid-19 safety measures resulted in the closure of religious places of worship across the country.

We are almost back to normal times and we will, of course, still follow the safety protocols
Raju Shroff, a trustee of the Hindu temple

The shrine opened partially in June last year with restricted one or two hour slots permitted in the morning and evening.

The extension is only an hour short of the pre-Covid years when the temple shut at 10pm.

However, worshippers must follow safety precautions: masks are mandatory, a sanitisation tunnel will remain and large "pujas" or gatherings inside the temple are not permitted.

“We are now almost back to normal times and we will, of course, still follow the safety protocols,” said Raju Shroff, a trustee of the Sindhi Guru Darbar temple.

“It will be at normal capacity with social distancing because we don’t want people cramming into the hall.

“We don’t want people to collect inside so it will be a moving crowd rather than a congregation.”

Offerings of flowers, sweets and coconuts still cannot be offered directly to the Gods. These can be handed over to the priest and will be placed in front of the statues after the temple closes.

The temple will be sanitised daily during the afternoon break.

A two-metre social distancing rule will be followed inside the shrine. Authorities in Dubai had previously relaxed the regulation to one metre in restaurants and some public places.

More volunteers will be needed in the temple, particularly at weekends when the number of visitors rises.

Mr Shroff said the longer time slots would allow for crowds to be staggered throughout the day.

“Now, people can come at their convenience and the crowd will be spread out because people can come over different times,” he said.

“We will need more volunteers to remind people to stand apart and wear masks. People normally adhere to the rules but volunteers are needed to maintain the flow of traffic.”

The news spread cheer among worshippers who travel from other emirates.

“It is a huge relief that we don’t have to rush because there is a small window of one or two hours,” said Dhananjay Kriplani, a businessman from Fujairah at the temple with his family on Monday.

“I have some friends who came 15 minutes late and felt really sad that the temple was shut. When we travel a long distance after work, it is not always possible to make it as per the time blocks. This will make so many people happy.”

A larger, contemporary shrine is being built by the trust in the Jebel Ali area of Dubai.

Mr Shroff said construction was in full swing at the site.

Work is on course to ensure the temple opens in October next year in time for the Hindu festival of Dussehra, followed by Diwali or the festival of lights.

Construction of Jebel Ali temple - in pictures

Updated: November 16, 2021, 8:16 AM