NAT 200701 SHIVA TEMPLE-13-1614512970218
Hindu devotees offering prayer at Shiva temple in Bur Dubai which re-opened on Wednesday 01 July 2020. Photo; Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Image Credit:

Dubai: The Hindu temple complex in Bur Dubai will not hold physical celebration of the upcoming Maha Shivratri festival to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the management of the Gurudarbar Sindhi Temple has urged devotees not to visit the temple premises to celebrate the festival held in honour of Hindu deity Lord Shiva.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the management said it has decided to keep the temple doors closed on Maha Shivratri which falls on Friday, March 12, in line with the COVID-19 protocols, and as a proactive measure for the safety of all devotees.

Read More

Currently, the temple is open only for an hour every day. “The temple opens for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening for conducting puja,” a temple trustee told Gulf News.

Big festival

Shivratri is the biggest festival observed in the temple and it used to be thronged by 50,000 to 60,000 devotees from as early as the break of the dawn on the day every year before the pandemic hit.

Though the authorities have not yet issued any order to cancel the celebrations, the temple management said it decided to do so out of abundance of caution and care.

“We don’t want thousands of people to gather and cause concerns about the spread of the virus. Hence, we decided to close the temple for celebrations by the public as a precautionary measure from our side to ensure safety and security of the community,” the trustee said.

Last year, there was a fire in the premises of the temple’s building complex just a few days ahead of the Shivratri festival. Two novelty shops were gutted in the fire due to a short circuit that forced the temple to close for a day. However, the temple’s premises were not affected and it reopened the next day.

NAT 200701 SHIVA TEMPLE-5-1614512973693
Hindu devotees offering prayer at Shiva temple in Bur Dubai which re-opened on Wednesday 01 July 2020. Photo; Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

What is Maha Shivratri

Literally translating to ‘the greatest night of Shiva,’ Maha Shivratri is one of the most splendidly celebrated festivals by Hindus in India and other countries.

It is believed that Lord Shiva performs the heavenly dance and it also marks the occasion of his marriage with Goddess Parvati.

“This is one of the busiest days of the year at the temple, after important days like New year and Diwali. The management has urged all devotees to stay safe and perform pujas at home, to prevent the spread of the virus,” said the trustee.

“We are all responsible to ensure safety measures are adhered to. As Maha Shivratri represents ‘overcoming darkness and ignorance,’ we hope this festival will be the beginning of overcoming the darkness of the pandemic.”

Virtual celebration

To allow devotees to seek blessings on the auspicious day, the temple has also arranged a virtual ‘darshan’ [beholding] of the deity.

Devotees can visit the YouTube channel ‘Hindu Temple Dubai’ to watch the live streaming on that day.

What about Holi?

The trustee said a decision would be taken later about observing Holi, another major Hindu festival, which is also known as the festival of colours. Holi is falling on March 28 this year.

Holi celebrations in Dubai have been famous for non-Indians joining Indian expats in public venues to splash colour powders and water colour on each other during the festivities.

“We will see the situation and take a call on Holi closer to the festival,” the trustee added.

The Holi celebrations were called off due to the pandemic last year.