Dubai Hindu temple to stay open past midnight on New Year’s Eve

Families can book space for prayer ceremonies to celebrate weddings and birthdays from January

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The doors of the Hindu temple in Jebel Ali will remain open well past midnight to usher in the New Year.

The temple will stay open until the early hours of January 1 to welcome those who want to begin 2023 with reflection and prayer.

Temple authorities are gearing up to handle tens of thousands of worshippers in line with the large numbers who visit on weekends and during holidays.

To have that sense of peace is very important and it’s a great way to start the year
Raj Shroff, temple trustee of the Hindu temple

“We will keep it open for people who want an environment that will give them peace and serenity to bring in the New Year,” Raju Shroff, trustee of Dubai’s Sindhi Guru Darbar temple trust that runs the temple, told The National.

“I like to start the New Year praying to God. We decided to keep the temple open so people can come in and pray. To have that sense of peace is very important and it’s a great way to start the year.”

The stark white temple with golden spires officially opened in October with thousands streaming in for the inauguration.

The main prayer hall of the new Hindu temple in Jebel Ali, Dubai.  Khushnum Bhandari / The National

The trust also runs a smaller temple in Bur Dubai.

The decision to stay open past midnight on New Year's Eve was taken for the Jebel Ali temple and not for the Bur Dubai shrine.

About 3,000 people visit the Jebel Ali temple visitors on weekdays with the numbers soaring on special days.

More than 21,000 people worship at the weekend, for Hindu festivals such as Diwali and the recent National Day.

“We are expecting similar numbers for New Year’s Day,” Mr Shroff said.

“To manage the crowds we keep it simple. We don’t have pujas or prayer ceremonies so more people can pay their respects to God.”

Bookings for private ceremonies

The community can start booking spots from January for weddings, birthday celebrations, children’s naming ceremonies and other prayers.

Test runs have been carried out over the past few weeks to check the facilities.

Numbers are limited to between 50 and 150 in areas dedicated to ceremonies, with a sacred fire and a banquet hall on the lower floor.

A Dubai family was among the first to hold 80th birthday celebrations for their father Srinivasan Ramanujam a few weeks ago with a more than three-hour long prayer ceremony.

Srinivasan Ramanujam celebrating his 80th birthday at the Hindu temple.  Photo: Srinivasan family

“My dad was super excited that he was able to complete all the rituals properly with the priests at the temple,” said Ramaswamy Srinivasan, a Dubai resident who works in the information systems sector.

“It felt surreal to do this in Dubai and in such a beautiful facility.

“It meant a lot to have close friends and relatives over — the other option would have been to do this in India.

“It was important for my father to have his birthday in a temple as the 80th year is a spiritual celebration and not a typical birthday.”

The Hindu temple was built in a religious corridor in Jebel Ali which is also home to several Christian churches and a Sikh gurdwara.

The temple is open seven days a week from 6am until 8.30pm, with the main aarti or traditional prayers in the evening.

Shuttle buses are available to take people from the Festival Plaza mall to the temple at regular intervals.

The pickup and drop off point is at the entrance of the mall. Information is available on the temple website.

Updated: December 31, 2022, 3:00 AM