Bur Dubai Temple Closes Today: Final Prayer Was For The Place Of Worship To Remain Open

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Wed 3 Jan 2024, 6:21 PM

Last updated: Wed 3 Jan 2024, 11:40 PM

Sonya Malhotra has faithfully visited the ancient Bur Dubai Shiv Mandir and Gurudwara every 1st of January for over a decade. This cherished ritual has been a steadfast constant in her life, never missing a beat.

However, this year's visit brought a poignant awareness to Sonya and her husband. It marked their last pilgrimage to the temple , and the weight of that realisation pressed heavily on them. They found themselves constantly stealing one last lingering look at the temple before it gradually faded from their view.

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Worshippers like Sonya will now need to redirect their spiritual journey to the newly opened temple in Jebel Ali, as the Bur Dubai temple, which opened its doors in 1958, bid farewell on Wednesday.

While speaking to Khaleej Times on Wednesday, Sonya expressed, "It was such an emotional day, with heavy hearts, we found ourselves repeatedly turning our headsto keep looking at the temple for as long as we could before it disappeared from our line of sight."

Sonya Malhotra (front)

With a heavy heart, Sonya bid farewell to a cherished and time-honoured tradition that had been an integral part of her life for so many years.

She added,“It's been like a ritual for us on the morning of January 1 at the start of the New Year; we would invariably first visit the temple at 4am. We don't party on December 31; the first thing we (do the next day) is visit this temple. Although the temple at Jebel Ali is not far from us in Springs, we've been visiting this place for years now, especially for 'Sai' darshan. The aura in this temple is very different. When we mention 'temple', we always think of the Bur Dubai temple.”

Photo: Rita Khetrapal

Her husband faithfully visited the temple every Thursday, even if it only meant standing at its entrance.

"Sometimes, he would be unwell or extremely busy, and I would try to dissuade him from making the journey all the way to Bur Dubai due to heavy traffic on that side. However, he declined to listen and insisted that his feelings were intricately tied to the Sai Baba temple. Even at 10 pm, he would go.

“There would be days when he wouldn't enter the premises but would simply touch the stairs of the temple and come back home,” Sonya added.

Night of spiritual celebration

On December 31 this year, the temple extended its worship hours and remained open throughout the night for devotees, only briefly closing its gates for an hour at 5am.

KT Photo: Shihab

Sonya emphasised that the daily visits to the temple have been a meaningful aspect of many people's lives. "In my case, significant milestones such as my twin daughters' 'mundan' (head shaving) ceremony and even marking the occasion of getting my first job were commemorated at this temple."

As a result, this sacred place, along with the Gurudwara, holds a treasure trove of cherished memories for the Malhotras. "Its intimate and unique ambiance made me feel profoundly connected. I sensed that my prayers were acknowledged and heard within its walls.

“The temple exuded a distinct atmosphere that fostered a deep sense of connection and spirituality,” she added.

KT Photo: Shihab One last time

Similarly, Al Barsha resident Rita Khetrapal offered her prayers one last time on Tuesday.

She took to social media to write her final post about the temple.“The last darshan of this beautiful temple, as it closes tomorrow. A place which I have been visiting every Tuesday for the last 22 years.”

Rita Khetrapal

While speaking to Khaleej Times, she reminisced about the familiar faces and smiles, along with the positive vibes that she will forever miss.

Rita said, "It's more than just the temple, that's just one part of it. I have been a regular here for over two decades now. I am a devotee of Lord Ganapati, which led me to visit the temple every Tuesday. However, it's not just the temple itself that I'll miss. I'll also miss the pandit (priest), the workers, the flower vendors, and the sellers of incense sticks. Their smiling faces became familiar, just as mine did to them."

From inauguration to its closure

Then, there was Ashok Odhrani, for whom the task was even more challenging. As part of the temple committee, he had to remain until the end of the day's activities, around 9.30pm.

Ashok Odhrani,

“My last prayer was for this temple in Bur Dubai to continue. People were very upset on Tuesday, and on January 1, there were around 25,000 devotees in the temple. The public has been requesting me to keep the temple open, but I keep telling everyone it is beyond me. I received a call from a lady yesterday who was crying on the phone," said the 67-year-old.

He explained that the existence of this temple is vital, not only for the thousands of devotees but also for the livelihoods of several small shop owners who sell flowers and worship items.

KT Photo: Shihab

Ashok's father was present at the inception of this temple's establishment. Over time, it flourished, and from his early years, Ashok has fostered a deep connection with this sacred place of worship.

“Every day, I would visit the temple twice. It catered to over 500,000 Indians living in areas like Karama, Bur Dubai, and Deira. People from Sharjah, Ajman, and Ras Al Khaimah came to visit this temple. Going to Jebel Ali would mean at least an extra 45 minutes of drive for some,” said the Dubai old-timer.


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