Diwali in UAE: Here's what Indian expats need to know
The Hindu Temple in Bur Dubai has called on families and individuals to refrain from bursting firecrackers, a common tradition during Diwali.
As the Indian festival of lights approaches, the expat community has been advised to strictly adhere to social distancing norms and avoid large gatherings.
Besides the precautionary measures laid down to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Hindu Temple in Bur Dubai has called on families and individuals to refrain from bursting firecrackers, a common tradition during Diwali.
Gopal Kokani, general manager of the Bur Dubai Hindu Temple, said: "It has been normal practice for several years for people to burst firecrackers during Diwali. They are illegal and dangerous, and I would suggest it shouldn't happen at all this year."
Kokani has also warned people against visiting each other's homes and exchanging sweets and gifts, saying such a practice would increase the risk of spreading coronavirus.
Staying safe from Covid-19
Late last week, Dubai's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management listed out the safety guidelines for Diwali and other festivities. It emphasised that the elderly and those with chronic conditions should not attend social functions.
It added: "The community is advised to avoid crowded places and strictly adhere to precautionary measures, including maintaining physical distancing and using face masks."
Dr Aman Puri, Consul-General of India to Dubai, thanked Dubai authorities for creating a festive atmosphere in the city despite the Covid-19 situation.
"Let us not lower our guards against Covid-19. I request all Indian nationals living in Dubai and Northern Emirates to celebrate responsibly, and abide by social distancing rules and other regulations set by local authorities. Let us celebrate responsibly keeping ourselves, our families and the society safe," Puri said.
No prayer meetings at the temple
There will be no prayers or offerings at the temple for this year's Diwali, Kokani said.
"Even during normal times, we do not have big celebrations at the Hindu Temple. It is considered the New Year for those celebrating.
People usually come to the temple, offer prayers and leave," he explained.
This year, the temple will remain open during normal working hours. "Stringent social distancing policies will be followed. We have not been offering prasad (temple offering) to devotees either.
The Community Development Authority has been carrying out inspections from time to time and we are happy to say, we have been found compliant," he added.
Kokani has encouraged residents to decorate their homes with colourful lights, as usual.
"It also displays how the UAE is tolerant of all religions. In Bur Dubai, it is very beautiful to see so many homes lit up. I also suggest that people celebrate with their immediate family members."
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