Ramadan in UAE: Dubai Gurudwara holds interfaith iftar for more than 250 people

Individuals from various nationalities and faiths joined the annual iftar at Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara in Jebel Ali on Thursday


Nandini Sircar

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Community members join the interfaith iftar at Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara in Jebel Ali
Community members join the interfaith iftar at Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara in Jebel Ali

Published: Thu 21 Mar 2024, 10:06 PM

The sound of the adhan (call to prayer) for maghrib prayers echoed through the walls of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara in Jebel Ali, bringing together people of diverse faiths as they assembled to end their fast at the Sikh temple in Dubai.

Reflecting the principles of religious freedom, tolerance, and harmonious coexistence cherished by the UAE, more than 250 individuals participated in the yearly interfaith iftar hosted at the Gurudwara on Thursday.

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It was an evening of unity and the exchange of blessings during the sacred month. Dr Surender Singh Kandhari, the chairman of Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara, said, “Ramadan is a time of reflection, devotion, and compassion. It’s a month where unity and empathy prevail, transcending boundaries of faith and culture. This time holds special significance for our Muslim brothers and sisters. It’s a time of spiritual renewal, self-discipline and gratitude. It’s a time when everyone comes together to share blessings and reaffirm the bonds of the future.”

Narrating the backstory of how this interfaith iftar started, Bubbles Kandhari, Vice-Chairperson of Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara, Dubai, said, “We had already started the interfaith Conference in 2012, which is 12 years now. That’s when we first realised there are so many communities and nationalities here. Therefore, we started with this. But when we started, people were a bit apprehensive, as is the case with all new beginnings, but then we received massive appreciation, and now it's growing…from strength to strength. It’s more than 250 people today and we see people of all nationalities in this room. The camaraderie experienced during Ramadan is also the universal message across faiths.”

Bubbles Kandhari
Bubbles Kandhari

The iftar was attended by Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Ambassador to the UAE; Major General Ahmed Khalfan Al Mansoori from Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD), Mirza Al Sayegh, a prominent Emirati member and Former Diplomat, Venu Rajamony, Former Indian Ambassador; Mohammed Al Muhairi, Director, Community Development Authority (CDA) Dubai; as well as representatives from various diplomatic corps, faith leaders and members of various community.

Peaceful coexistence is a shared responsibility

The message of peaceful coexistence was emphasised by Mirza Al Sayegh, a prominent Emirati member and Former Diplomat. He said, “This is a spiritual place that shows our country's heritage and the Al Maktoum’s love and affection towards other communities. We appreciate what the community has done for us here in the UAE. We always cherished our relationship with various nationalities existing in our country. It’s an opportunity for all of us to welcome the month of Ramadan, the month of mercy, humanitarian deeds, and charity.”

Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, reflected on the diversity of religions, faiths, and nationalities, noting that this diversity is a common sight at the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara every year.

He said, “What I see all around me are people of different religions, faiths, and nationalities. This is not something new to the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara. I see this happening every year. I will say that we must all be thankful to this country's rulers and government for creating this environment of harmony, peace, and tolerance where we can all be who we are and continue to contribute to the economy and society of this country. This month is a blessed month as it’s the holy month of Ramadan, and at the same time this month, we had Maha Shivratri (Indian festival), and Wednesday was Nowruz (Persian New Year). A few days from now, it’ll be Holi (the Indian festival of colours), and before the month ends, we'll have Good Friday (an important day in the Christian religion). What a lovely coincidence.”

‘It’s a great gift to be together’

Concurrently, the evening was also graced by Imams, Christian clergy, and Bahai representatives. The head of the Catholic Church in the UAE, Bishop Paolo Martinelli, told Khaleej Times, “It’s a pleasure for me to be here during Ramadan and an opportunity to meet people from different religions and faiths. It’s a great gift to be together. We can share our different experiences and understand how important it is to work together, especially to stretch the barriers of tolerance and coexistence and find peaceful ways to work together.”

Bishop Paolo Martinelli
Bishop Paolo Martinelli

He added, “The future of peace is possible only if we cultivate a good relationship through generations. So, it's very important for us to feel this responsibility to transmit these values of tolerance and coexistence to the new generation and to work together with people from different religions, cultures, and traditions. This is our future.”

Prominent Dubai-based businessmen were also part of the evening, including Kamal Vachani, Partner, Al Maya Group, who said, “It’s an inspiring and inclusive gathering celebrating unity and diversity. This interfaith iftar exemplifies the spirit of togetherness and mutual respect. It’s a commendable initiative embodying the values of tolerance, compassion, and solidarity.”


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