Glittering brass spires will soon soar over a landmark Hindu temple in Dubai, as preparations for its opening gather pace.
A prayer service was held on Saturday at the temple in the Jebel Ali area, before their installation.
The puja — or prayers — mark the topping out of the temple that is being readied for an October opening.
Nine brass kalash spires — the highest point of a Hindu temple — were transported from India to cap the domes of a temple that will be open to people of all faiths.
They were placed in a hall decorated with flowers on the temple’s first floor before the installation begins next week.
Priests recited Sanskrit verses during Saturday’s prayers and worshippers made offerings of rice and flowers to the spires that weigh between 90 and 120 kilograms.
“It gives us goosebumps to reach this stage,” Gopal Kookani, a manager overseeing construction work at the temple, told The National.
“The kalash puja is very important because that is the source of the temple’s energy. This is a special ritual before placing it on top of the temple. The kalash fills everyone who visits with energy, even people who catch a glimpse of it from far away — that is its essence.”
Construction of Jebel Ali temple - in pictures
The main kalash is 1.8 metres high and weighs about 120 kilograms. Eight spires, each about 1.2m high and each weighing about 90kg, will surround it.
They will be lifted by cranes and fitted on to the temple starting on Monday.
This is a significant construction milestone when the topmost structural element is added to commemorate completion of the main construction work.
“We have now completed about 85 per cent of the work on the temple,” said Raju Shroff, a trustee of the Sindhi Guru Darbar temple trust.
“Once the kalash is added, the main construction will be complete.
“It is amazing to see all this happen. Now it does not feel like a construction site, it actually gives you the feeling of a temple.”
Inside, white marble pillars decorated with elephants, lotus flowers and bells support the corners.
Marble slabs have been fixed on the staircase leading up to the first level where the prayer areas are being readied.
About 75 people were part of Saturday’s prayer ceremony, with organisers restricting numbers due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The organisers are preparing for the temple to open to the public for the Hindu festival of Dussehra in October.
“Tolerance is a way of life in this country,” Mr Kookani said.
“The people imbibe and practise it, they don’t just preach.
“There is a temple here and in Abu Dhabi there is another temple being constructed. This is my 49th year in this country, so I have seen this country growing up.”
The next landmark for the place of worship is when 15 deities hand-carved from marble are transported from India in April and May.
The Hindu temple under construction in Abu Dhabi will be complete by next year.