On Tuesday morning, at a villa in Jumeirah, a group of Sri Lankan expats, which includes men, women, boys as well as girls adorning white clothes, were deep in meditation. All of them with their heads kowtow and hands clasped in prayer were reciting verses from ancient Buddhist literature.
Since May 2012, right in the middle of furry and commotion of the city, the two-storey, three-bedroom villa has become the hub of Mahamevnawa Buddhism in Dubai. Basically, it’s the only Buddhist temple in the region, according to Sri Lankan migrant Rubesh Pillai. Pillai, who works as a volunteer and helps to run the Buddhist shrine.
After Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, Buddhism is regarded to be the fourth-largest faith in the world. According to Pillai, nearly 300,000 Buddhists have been living calmly and genially in the UAE for many years. Around 2, 50,000 of them are from Sri Lanka.
Pillai told that this very fact proves that the UAE is not just a tolerant country; it is a nation which gladly welcomes other belief or religion as well. He even stated that for him in order to describe the UAE, being tolerant won’t be the right phrase. In order to show how the UAE is to people belonging to diverse culture, one might witness that the UAE basically admires, adores, and fosters everyone.
The first Mahamevnawa Buddhist temple was set up at a small villa in Satwa in 2008. The temple which started with hundreds of Buddhists soon grew quickly and found a bigger place in Garhoud in 2010. Again in 2012, it moved to its current location in Jumeirah, just behind the former Dubai Zoo. Pillai stated that the temple remains open to everyone every day and anyone can come here and meditate.
One won’t find any special markings at the exterior of the temple. However, as one steps inside, they are welcomed by the smell of incense sticks floating through the air and a lush green bodi tree that offers the perfect meditation ambiance.
Pillai stated that anyone from any religion can come to the temple and meditate. He added that Buddhism, at its base, is not a religion but a way or philosophy of life.