‘Almost like India’: UAE’s Indian community marks Diwali with festivities

Published November 1st, 2016 - 06:00 GMT
Indian Sikh devotees lighting candles during Bandi Chhor Divas, or Diwali, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on October 30, 2016. (AFP/Narinder Nanu)
Indian Sikh devotees lighting candles during Bandi Chhor Divas, or Diwali, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on October 30, 2016. (AFP/Narinder Nanu)

It is that time of year when some Dubai neighborhoods resemble Indian streets with buildings decked in Diwali lighting.

Dubai was brighter than ever this weekend as hundreds of thousands of Indian expatriates from various states celebrated the Hindu festival of lights in its full grandeur.

Though the main day of the Diwali festival falls on Sunday, many made use of the weekend for celebrations and visiting friends and relatives. And for those from the southern states like Tamil Nadu, the main day of their celebrations fell on Saturday, letting them take advantage of the holiday in most private companies.

Several Indian schools and many private firms are closed today for Diwali, while many working in other places are taking leave to enjoy the festivities.

The Dubai Diwali celebration is almost akin to that in India for most and the things that they miss are perhaps the non-stop noise of the firecrackers and parents and siblings living back home.

However, Indians here generally stick to their traditions and rejoice in the occasion. “Diwali festivities here are almost like those in India,” said Urvashi Palicha, who has been living in Dubai for 16 years. “You can feel the festive buzz for several days. Indians feel very comfortable as the community here is very welcoming and they respect everyone’s culture. We burst a lot of firecrackers in India. But we refrain from doing that here. I miss having my immediate family… my parents, in-laws, and siblings. But in terms of celebration, culture and festivities, it is very much the same over here,” she said.

Praying to Lakshmi, the deity of wealth at home and at the workplace is an important part of the festival, said Palicha, who runs a human resource consultancy firm. Buying new clothes, distributing sweets and gifts among friends and guests on Diwali are also a must. “We make some special sweets like laddus and rice kheer and I make it a point that my children go on their own and hand over sweets to all our friends in our building. All children then get together to have fun and celebrate.”

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material.


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