Here's what Dubai expats are doing this Diwali...
Arti Dani speaks to a few Indian expat couples to find out how they are celebrating Diwali in Dubai today
Sweets and family time for the Dhotes
Dubai-based couple and owners of the restaurant O'Pa0, Moushmi Bhatia and Amol Dhote, believe that Diwali is best celebrated at home with family and close friends. "Our day will begin with spring cleaning, and decorating the house with flowers and lighting diyas to welcome goodness and luck, followed by a small pooja and dinner (with lots of mithai!)." So what does Diwali mean to them? "Diwali for us signifies the celebration of new beginnings, the Festival of Light and togetherness." Moushmi adds that she really misses spending time with her entire family back home in India, "and of course the dozens of mithais and festive delicacies we would eat." The couple is really busy these days with the opening of their new restaurant, hence Diwali will be an opportunity for them to make their friends and family taste dishes from their restaurant which specialises in Indian street food.
"These days, we have been spending all of our time planning our new restaurant O'Pao. So all the dishes on our table are different versions of the classic Mumbai vada pav."
For the Aroras, Diwali is all about family and friends
For Dubai expats Nikita and husband Raghav Arora, Diwali is their favourite time of the year. "It celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of light over darkness," says Nikita a brand management executive. "During Diwali, we express our good wishes and love by sharing sweets and gifts with our families and friends. Traditionally, the homes are cleaned and new clothes are worn at the time of the festival. It brings everyone, friends and family, closer and gives us the chance to celebrate together."
The couple plan to celebrate this year by lighting diyas and decorating their house with loads of fresh flowers. Having grown up in the UAE, Nikita has many happy memories of celebrating the Festival of Lights in this city.
"Putting up lights with your siblings and parents around the house to make sure every corner wished us happy Diwali, constantly looking at our watches for the Diwali pooja to get over so we could go out and burn crackers with our friends and family," are some of the never-to-to-forgotten childhood memories she associates with Diwali.
The city might have changed over the years but the sentiments associated with the celebrations have remained the same for the Aroras - "It's always been about getting together with friends and family and that's still the same."
But what Nikita looks forward to the most are the mithais and the Indian desserts that are shared. "I think most of us look forward to it!" (As told to Ambica Sachin)
Everyday is Diwali for Biswas couple
For Soumyo and Karuna Biswas, this Diwali is really special as they have a new member in their family - their two-month-old daughter Dia.
But for foodie Soumyo, Diwali is all about food. "Diwali in Dubai for me is about the sweets and food. ok, you put a Bong and his Haryanavi wife in Dubai, well, it's going to be sweets and sweet!"
He believes Dubai is truly a home for the Festival of Lights, hence every day is a Diwali in Dubai, "Isn't every day a Diwali in Dubai? Anyone who flies to/from or over Dubai at night, any day of the year, can say 'wow Dubai is the home to the festival lights'. And a few minutes drive into the desert, the cosmos puts out a spectacular light show like no other." Though Soumyo really misses Diwali vacations and long train rides back home, he also misses lighting up fireworks with his cousins.
Crackers and gifts for Agarwal family
For the family of four - Ankur, Shweta, Arush and Vihaan Agarwal, Diwali is about a new beginnings and looking at the brighter side of life. "Its also about wearing new traditional clothes and following rituals like lighting a diya," said Shweta, a homemaker and a marathoner.
While the two young kids in the family are most excited about the crackers and the sparklers during Diwali, the adults love celebrating the festival with friends over great food, cards, and conversation, "Dubai offers a lot for this festival given the plethora of options for shopping and entertainment. It also is about sharing sweets/gifts not only with our friends and family, but also with people who work hard around us to make our lives easier through the year."
They miss the fact that this period is a holiday back home.
Shweta's homemade kheer is an instant hit with the entire family - "Diwali is associated with good food, with lots of binge eating, but kheer or rice pudding is one dish which is a must-have for Diwali."
As told to Arti Dani
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