Holi celebrations cancelled in Dubai due to coronavirus

Prayer time reduced, sanitisers provided as part of measures to protect devotees

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Indian community celebrating holi at Zabeel Park in Dubai.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan, Gulf News

Dubai: It will be a colourless Holi festival for Indian expats this year as Hindu temples in Bur Dubai have cancelled the celebrations and advised against throwing colours to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

This is in addition to other preventive measures such as reduction in prayer times and providing sanitisers as part of preventive measures to protect the devotees and the larger community, the managements of both Shiva and Krishna temples told Gulf News on Saturday.

“The Holi celebrations have been cancelled. We are taking precautionary steps in line with DHA [Dubai Health Authority] instructions,” said Gopal Kokani, general manager of the Guru Darbar Sindhi Temple (Shiva temple).

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Image Credit: Supplied

“We usually have the celebration of burning cow dung cakes on the first day of Holi which on March 9. We have already put up a notice informing the cancellation to all devotees,” he said.

He said the daily opening hours of the temple have also been reduced.

“It is now from 6am to 12 noon and from 5pm to 9pm daily. Earlier, we had extended hours from 6am to 1pm and from 5pm to 10pm.”

He said the advice to refrain from splashing colours is meant for all Hindu expats.

Lalit Karani, chairman of the Sreenathji (Krishna) Temple run by the Mercantile Hindu Community of Thatta said the Holi celebrations on March 9 and 10 have been cancelled in the interest of public health safety.

“The Holi Utsav and Dhol Utsav will not be celebrated for public,” the temple management said in a notice to devotees which is being circulated on social media as well.

“We request all to avoid unnecessary gatherings in order to limit the spread of infection. Avoid throwing colours (wet/dry) in the temple premises and compound area,” the notice stated, with No Colours Please highlighted.

Karani said the bonfire on Monday and the splashing of colours on Tuesday will be held only as offerings for Lord Krishna.

“Normally these ceremonies last for half an hour. But, this time we will have it only for 10 minutes,” he said.

Also, to avoid devotees crowding up for prayers, the temple will admit them for one hour every alternative hour from 12noon to 7pm.

“We have only one hour darshan in four different timings—from 12 noon to 1pm, 2 to 3pm, 4 to 5pm and 6 to 7pm. This is to make sure people come in different groups and don’t make big crowds.”

He said the temple is cleaned up during the one hour breaks.

Other Holi events in Dubai had also been cancelled earlier.