Hindus in UAE hail decision to allot land for temple

Indian and Nepalese community elated at the announcement, but embassy urges patience since ‘such decisions take time’.

Hindu expatriates have to travel to Bur Dubai to pray at the two temples there until the new one is built in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National
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ABU DHABI // Indian and Nepalese Hindus have welcomed the decision to allot land for a temple in Abu Dhabi.

At present, there are two temples in Dubai, but none in the capital.

The Indian embassy said that the UAE Government’s promise to allot land for a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi was a first step and it would take time for the project to be completed.

“Always such decisions take time. It has just been told to our prime minister when he was here,” Indian ambassador to the UAE, T P Seetharam, said.

“But there are no further developments at this stage. There is nothing more at this point.”

Obviously, it is a great thing for the Indian community, he said, adding: “There is nothing to add to what has already been announced.”

As well as the Indian community in Abu Dhabi, there are expatriates from Nepal who are equally delighted.

The Himalayan kingdom is the only constitutionally declared Hindu nation in the world and more than 400,000 of its nationals live in the UAE. More than 100,000 of them reside in Abu Dhabi and they frequent the Dubai temples for prayers.

Krishna Bhusal, head of the non-resident Nepalese association in Abu Dhabi, said: “The Nepalese community is highly excited about it. Nepalese who live here have to travel to Dubai for prayers and this temple will prove to be a great respite for all of us.

“Mostly Nepalese who are in Abu Dhabi pray at their homes and on big occasions they travel to Dubai. I also go to Dubai for Holi [Hindu festival of colours], Diwali [festival of lights] and Durga Puja [worship of the Hindu goddess Durga],” Mr Bhusal said.

Mr Bhusal, who has been living in Abu Dhabi for the past eight years, thanked the UAE Government and the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, for the decision.

Last week the UAE’s state news agency Wam said in a joint statement on the two-day visit of Mr Modi: “Prime minister [Mr Modi] thanked His Highness the Crown Prince [Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed] for his decision to allot land for construction of a temple in Abu Dhabi.”

There are two temples in Dubai, one of Lord Shiva and another of Krishna.

“We have been awaiting a temple in Abu Dhabi for the past 45 years. Luckily this dream has come true now after the visit of the prime minister,” said Tushar Patni, managing director of Ajanta Jewellers in Abu Dhabi.

“Generally we visit Dubai to pray, and to perform special rituals we travel back to India. This is great news for the entire community who would get a chance to perform their prayers in the emirate,” Mr Patni, an Indian, said.

“The presence of a temple in the capital will give us an opportunity to socialise, meet and greet our community people. This would connect people and bring them more closer to the religion,” said Mr Patni, who has lived in the UAE for 47 years.

While a large number of Hindus here pray at their shops or apartments, they keep small idols of their gods in their homes.

Prem Shankar, another Indian national, said: “I work in a laundry and don’t get time to visit Dubai for prayers and mostly I pray in my room or shop for a few minutes. Sometimes I travel home to celebrate a special occasion.

“Everyday I do some prayers for a few minutes in my room.”

But if the temple is built, we can go there and pray, said Mr Shankar, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 32 years.