Diwali celebrated with traditional fanfare
Dubai: Thousands of Indian expatriates ushered in Diwali, the festival of lights, today with pomp and fanfare. The build-up began nearly a month ago with the festivals of Ganesh Chaturthi and Navratri and, over the last fortnight, the main thoroughfares of Bur Dubai have been festooned with colourful lights and glowing lanterns.
However, this year, the mood is comparatively sombre owing to the turmoil in the region and the festivities seem to be scaled down.
The tradition of buying gold or silver, on the day of Dhan Teras before Diwali, also saw a slow-down. Deepak Soni, CEO of Marhaba Jewellers, told Gulf News: “This Dhan Teras was a slow experience for most jewellers as people only made token purchases of 8gm gold coins and small silver items. They did not go for big-ticket items.”
However, at another jewellery store in Bur Dubai, buyers were being turned away as gold coins were in short supply. Only those who had pre-booked their coins walked away with them. “I hadn’t pre-booked my gold coin. So it looks like I will have to do without it this time,” lamented, Archana, a housewife.
Himani Semwal, a Dubai-based entrepreneur who bought some gold rings on Dhan Teras, said: “The price of gold has fallen but that has not triggered a buying spree as people feel gold is not a good long-term investment. It’s only women who want some personal jewellery items who decided to make their purchases on the auspicious day.”
Celebrating Diwali with a difference this year are Manju and Luv Sahni, long-time residents of Bur Dubai. They decided to gift books and stationery to classmates of their seven-year-old daughter Jahnya. “For my personal shopping, I make it a point to buy a new silk saree on Diwali day. My mother is here from India and she has made mouth-watering Diwali delicacies. We will meet up with friends and share the celebratory mood,” said Manju.
For Mona Sharma, Dean of Student Activities, American College of Dubai, this Diwali is special as she has been blessed with a granddaughter. “I have been distributing sweets as our delight this festival is doubled with the birth of our granddaughter, Anahita,” she said.
Veera Bhatia said her family is fully caught up in the festive spirit. “Despite Diwali being a working day, we did not hold back on our purchases. Like every year, I have made traditional sweets, spring cleaned my home, segregated clothes and shoes for charity, put up lights and am all set for the rituals.”
On the streets of Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai, people thronged sweet shops as it is a Diwali tradition to pay a visit to friends with a box of sweets. Laddus (traditional round sweet preparations) and barfis (milk-based sweets) were in huge demand, said the manager of a sweet shop. “We stop making all other items at least a week before Diwali as there is such a huge demand for laddus and dry fruit barfi. We are hardly able to meet the demand.“
The narrow bylane leading to the temple in Bur Dubai was packed with people buying flowers, incense sticks, lamps, coconuts and other items required for Diwali rituals.
On the social circuit, Diwali get-togethers are fighting for space on the daily calender. “If you are not bleary-eyed and sleepless during Diwali, it means you haven’t had a good party season,” said Indian expatriate Ashok K., a regular fixture at most pre-Diwali parties.