As a kid I remember my mother occasionally telling us about her memories of growing up in a Sikh neighbourhood in Ludhiana (India). Even though I had never been to a Sikh temple before, I guess I always knew quite a bit about Sikhism but I must say I was still surprised when I finally got the opportunity to visit the Sikh temple in Dubai.
I was touched by their generosity and humility. I've been lucky enough to visit several religious institutions around the world but never been to one where ordinary people of community volunteer to polish your dusty old shoes for you, as a courtesy and take pride in it.
Every single individual at the temple, the one who shines your shoes to the ones who cook for you, serve you, ones who look after your every need, down to the ones who clean up after you are all volunteers, rich, poor, men, women, old or even kids, they're all ordinary people like us from different walks of life. I met a gentleman at the temple who works as a laborer, Friday was his only day off but he walked 11kms in 45˚ heat to get to the temple so he can volunteer and be part of the community.
What sets Sikhism apart from most religions is the fact that Sikhism clearly rejects belief in divine incarnation and idol worship. Guiding principles of the Sikh faith are Truth, Equality, Freedom, Justice, and Karma. Sikh scriptures teach the concept of Moderation, it teaches a person to remove the Five Evils: Lust, Wrath, Greed, Materialism and Egotism.
All adult Sikhs wear a "Kara" on their wrist, it's a steel or iron bracelet which acts as a constant reminder of Sikh's mission on this earth, a reminder that he or she must carry out righteous and true deeds and actions.
Sikhs don't trim their hair, it has to do with the practice of "Kesh", allowing your hair to grow naturally out of respect for God's creation or perfection, as one of the gentlemen told me at the temple, God made you perfect the way you are, why alter his perfection?.
Most male Sikhs have LION (Singh) and most female Sikhs have PRINCESS (Kaur) as their surname
I'm grateful for everyone's kindness and trust at the temple and for letting me photograph them up close in their moments of meditation.
• Sikh temple is located in the 25,400 square feet plot in Jebel Ali, Dubai, and spreads over 100,000 sq.ft building.
• Its a place of worship for about 50,000 Sikhs in Dubai, and an avenue for community events and marriages.
• Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum and Dubai government granted 25,400 sq ft of land free.
• Dubai-based architect firm Holford Associates have designed the building.
• It's the first and only official Sikh gurdwara in the entire Gulf.