Prayer ceremonies will be held in January and over the summer to bless the Hindu temple being built in the Jebel Ali area of Dubai.
The prayers are to purify the shrine and ready it before the official opening in September next year.
Nine kalashas – brass fittings that will cap the domes – are being shipped from Ujjain city in central India this month.
The tallest kalash (apex of the spire) is 1.8 metres and weighs about 120 kilograms.
The metal structure will tower over eight surrounding spires, each about 1.2m high and weighing about 90kg.
Temple officials said prayers at the end of January, and through July and August, will be key to prepare the shrine before the installation of the kalash and the 16 deities to be housed within.
“Visibly you can now see the shape of the temple come up,” Raju Shroff, a trustee of the Sindhi Guru Darbar temple that oversees the construction work, told The National.
“Between now and the next three months you will see major changes.
“The kalash is the most important part as the ornament placed on top of the temple after the structure is 100 per cent ready.
“The first thing that will go up after the January puja will be the kalash.
“That highlights that the temple structure is ready.”
The stark white indented domes can be spotted from a distance and frame a modern design chosen to reflect the spirit of the emirate.
“We wanted a temple that was like Dubai,” Mr Shroff said.
“We were keen on a contemporary look because you have the historic Bastakiya and Shindagha areas, but this new temple is in new Dubai.”
The trust also runs a Hindu shrine in a small building in Bur Dubai that recently received clearance to restore opening timings to levels before the coronavirus outbreak.
Places of worship were shut in March 2020 when Covid-19 safety measures were introduced throughout the country.
At the Jebel Ali site, construction work has been completed at a quick pace across a space that will accommodate 1,500 worshippers.
Large glass panes have been fitted to the skylight, white tiles fixed on walls and marble laid on the staircase leading to a large prayer hall on the upper level.
A small group of community members will be part of the January ceremony, which will last a few days.
“The kalash prayers will take a couple of days because it brings in energy to the temple,” he said.
“It is a small puja but the kalash has a big significance because even when people look at it from far away they can pray to it.”
Delivery of statues
The next milestone will be the arrival, from April onwards, of 16 hand-carved white and black marble statues of deities from Jaipur, Kanyakumari and Madhurai cities in northern and southern India.
“Prayers will be done for each of the murtis because there are different rituals to be followed," he said.
"We will get different communities to be part of pujas in the summer.”
Expansive arches dominate a 464-square-metre hall where Hindu deities including Shiva, Hanuman, Ganesh and Durga will later be placed.
The space will also have a section for the Sikh holy book the Guru Granth Sahib.
The hall is encircled by an open terrace for traditional rituals where devotees can pray around a fire.
The lower floor is divided into sections including a kitchen that will cater for 1,000 meals, a banquet place for 500 people and rooms where volunteers can teach meditation or dance.
Families can book rooms for weddings, birth ceremonies or condolence meetings in space set aside for community interaction.
“Many young people don’t want to get married in a hotel, they want a temple,” Mr Shroff said.
“We didn’t want people who are praying to be disturbed by a wedding party blocking the prayer hall.
“So we planned the downstairs community area to be used for functions and people can go up to pray.”
Serene religious zone
The shrine is the newest construction in a neighbourhood on the city’s outer rim filled with several churches and a Sikh gurdwara.
Earth-toned mashrabiya screens inspired by Arabic architecture and infused with Hindu geometric patterns will shelter portions of the terrace and facade.
“We wanted the design to have elements that emphasise harmony to embody two cultures,” Mr Shroff said.
“It’s like the peace you feel in this zone with six churches, one gurdwara and now a temple.”
Estimated to cost an estimated Dh65 million ($17.69 million) , the shrine is being built on land granted by the Dubai government.
Approvals from Dubai Municipality were processed quickly despite offices being shut during the pandemic last year.
“It is amazing that all this is taking place in Covid times,” Mr Shroff said. “We were lucky to complete the work thanks to the online approval process.
“Government officials were working from home, we were uploading designs and they were approving these online.”
'Dream come true'
Another traditional stone Hindu temple is being built in Abu Dhabi and will be completed by 2023.
The buildings are symbols of the UAE's tradition of inclusion of all religions and cultures.
Planners in Dubai are confident the temple there will be ready ahead of Dussehra festival in October next year.
They will dedicate time to plan handling the crowds that will flock to the site once the temple is ready.
The Bur Dubai shrine usually attracts between 3,000 and 5,000 people a day and about 15,000 devotees over the weekend.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Mr Shroff said.
“In our lives, how many times have we actually seen a monument like a temple being built. It is a feeling of real joy to be part of the planning, design and building. We are overjoyed to build this for the community.”