Dubai: Jebel Ali temple welcomes 40,000 devotees on first day of New Year

Temple receives additional 12,000 worshippers this year compared to previous years

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Nandini Sircar

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Faithful offer prayers at Jebel Ali Hindu Mandir in Dubai. KT Photo: Neeraj Murali.
Faithful offer prayers at Jebel Ali Hindu Mandir in Dubai. KT Photo: Neeraj Murali.

Published: Thu 4 Jan 2024, 9:31 PM

Last updated: Fri 5 Jan 2024, 10:20 AM

The temple in Jebel Ali welcomed 40,000 devotees on the first day of the New Year reflecting a growing community engagement for spiritual observances.

Mohan Narasimhamurthy, Hindu Temple Dubai’s General Manager in Jebel Ali, revealed a noteworthy surge, with over 12,000 more devotees attending compared to the previous year.

Khaleej Times visited the new Jebel Ali temple a day after the Shiva temple in Bur Dubai moved there, exploring how this transition symbolises hope for worshippers as they greet 2024.

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“Last year we welcomed approximately 28,000 to 29,000 individuals. This year, there was a notable rise in footfall of devotees with the temple receiving an extra 10,000 to 12,000 people. It was a successful day as we managed to ensure the satisfaction of all the devotees.”

Faithful offer prayer at Jebel Ali Hindu Mandir Photo by Neeraj Murali.
Faithful offer prayer at Jebel Ali Hindu Mandir Photo by Neeraj Murali.

He explained every effort was made to handle different queues, such as the bachelor queue, family queues, and a larger family queue accommodating individuals aged 80 and above, persons with disabilities (PODs), pregnant women, and mothers with infants.

Devotees on January 1

“Throughout the day, there was a consistent flow of 1,800-2,000 people per hour from morning till evening. During significant occasions, we've surpassed the attendance of 25,000 devotees more than 29 or 30 times on a single day."

"We have a large number of volunteers who assist on those days. Family queues have holding areas inside the premises so that people can be comfortable there as they wait before they can enter the main prayer hall. Safety is a top priority,” he added.

He also noted that no special archanas or abhisheks (rituals) are held on such days with only darshan (view of inner sanctum) being a priority on such days.

Narasimhamurthy said: “Throughout the year, we see four to five significant days, one of which is January 1. The UAE National Day, a public holiday, attracts a considerable number of devotees. Typically, between Monday and Friday, the temple welcomes an average of 3,000 to 4,000 worshippers. However, on weekends, this number escalates, reaching approximately 6,000 on Saturdays, 8,000 on Sundays, and peaking at an average of 12,000 attendees.”

First-time visitors

Even as the relocation of the temple in Bur Dubai to the Jebel Ali stirred emotions within the community, many devotees at the new temple site hailed the move, stating parking and crowd management posed a significant challenge at the old temple location.

Gokul Raman visited to seek blessings for the New Year and to celebrate his daughter's birthday. “Today is my daughter’s birthday and visiting the temple on such special occasions is a tradition that we’ve maintained all along. It’s such a beautiful temple. We couldn’t come here on January 1, but we at least managed to make it here today,” said the Silicon Oasis resident.

He added: “Before its (Bur Dubai temple) closure, for one last time, I wanted to visit the old temple once, but I couldn’t. However, now we've shifted our visits to this new temple. It's truly beautiful here, the pristine white walls. Upon stepping inside, there's a distinct vibe fostering a strong sense of connection.”

Seema Bhatia, who travelled from Sharjah, brought her daughter. KT Photo: Nandini Sircar
Seema Bhatia, who travelled from Sharjah, brought her daughter. KT Photo: Nandini Sircar

Seema Bhatia, who travelled from Sharjah, brought her daughter, who is currently visiting her from London. “This temple is lovely. The government has given us this massive place and it’s truly beautiful, and magnificent. We regularly come here for all the functions and festivals,” she said.

“The old temple was crowded but it had its own charm too. But this is spacious and quite ornate,” added the resident who has been in the UAE for the past 17 years.

Driver Gurpreet Singh who was visiting the Gurudwara next door decided to bring his friend here who yearned to see the new temple.

“My friend Sudeepto had not seen this temple although it was inaugurated in October 2022. He was longing to see it. But he doesn’t have a vehicle. Since I have a vehicle and keep driving around, I decided to bring him here on his day off.”

Ankur Singh
Ankur Singh

A newcomer, Ankur Singh said: “I am seeing this place for the first time. I decided to come here as the New Year has just started. It’s spacious, elegant, and has an amazing aura.”

A must-see destination

Meanwhile, Narasimhamurthy also highlighted that the temple in Jebel Ali is not only gaining popularity among devotees but also emerging as a prominent attraction for tour operators in the UAE.

Tour companies are increasingly including visits to the temple in their guided tours, attracting individuals from various nationalities and faiths.

He said: “On average, we get seven to eight tour buses in a day. Many tourist operators have selected the temple as a ‘must-see’ destination. More than 40-50 different nationalities have visited the temple. The doors are open for everyone.”

He explains sometimes during the peak season these numbers can even exceed.

“During the off-season also, we witness one or two tourist buses coming here daily. I get calls from all over the world. Tour bus companies from the US and India contact me about upcoming tourist groups, asking if advance bookings are necessary, and I consistently reply with a 'No'.”

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