Hindu families say they are looking forward to the arrival of Abu Dhabi’s first temple in what will be a boost for the community.
The place of worship will be located in the Al Wathba area of the capital and be built on 20,000sqm of land.
Indian businessman BR Shetty, who is the chairman of the Temple coordination committee, earlier this month said the facility will be finished by the end of 2017.
The plans were first revealed when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the UAE in August 2015. At present, there is only one temple for Hindu worshippers in the UAE, in Bur Dubai.
Indian expat Gehanaa Ratnani, 43, said the temple’s arrival is a dream come true for her family.
She said: “I have been following the story since the prime minister visited and am very happy we finally have a time set for its completion.
“There are so many occasions that we would like to visit the temple for: a birthday, all our festivals and pujas. Often we have not been able to attend.
“We usually do community gatherings on a smaller scale to pray together, but the feeling of being able to celebrate and pray in a temple in my city is out of the world.”
Meanwhile, Jayanthi Prasad, 45, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for more than 20 years, said: “We think of Abu Dhabi as our home and this adds a lot of value to that feeling.
“Moreover, I can now contribute and volunteer towards our community through the temple.”
Swati Gadgil, 42, a mother of two and teacher in Abu Dhabi, said her children have grown up only occasionally visiting the temple in Dubai.
She added: “It will allow my young kids to be closer to their religion and the traditions and roots we grew up with.”
Prayer leader Jayanthi Venkat, 47, who organises rituals at the India Social & Cultural Centre (ISC) on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, said there would be a huge demand for the Al Wathba temple.
He said: “Hundreds of people come together at ISC to pray and celebrate our festivals together.
“Since we are not allowed to keep idols, we usually pray to candles or lamps as a form of God and have a mass puja [prayer ritual], with songs and chants.
“Having the temple in Abu Dhabi means we can now have all of these prayers together in front of our idols in an actual place for prayer instead of making use of halls and community places.”