Voices of the UAE: Celebrate responsibly
Frontliners celebrating Onam this year advise on how to enjoy the festivities
Dr Sheena Balakrishnan
Specialist Ophthalmologist, Lifecare Hospital, Abu Dhabi
Onam has always been an exciting celebration in my life right from childhood days - it means new traditional clothes, visiting friends and family, traditional floral arrangement or Pookalams, the yummy spread of sadhya with variety of delicious payasams. And above all the "holidays and no studies". It was typically fun, food and friends. When I moved to this culturally diverse country, UAE, Onam was more of a community celebration, sometime extending over a month.
But this year, obviously it's going to be a slightly subdued celebration, less of community and more of family. In a way, Covid-19 has, in fact, strengthened family bonds. This year, I plan to make few of my favourite payasams at home and send them to some of my close friends and colleagues at my hospital, who are doing a great job during these challenging times. Later, in the evening we have a virtual get-together with my childhood friends. Yes, Onam this year might be less grandeur, but will be the most meaningful and heartfelt celebration with near and dear ones.
Sister Remya Nair
Registered Nurse, Lifecare Hospital, Abu Dhabi
Like any Malayali world over, Onam is the most looked forward to festival in my life. I only have very fond and cherished memories of celebrations back home. It used to be 10-day non-stop fun-filled days. But this year, as someone working in the healthcare sector, I know the seriousness of the current situation. I have decided not to indulge in any luxuries, and instead support the less fortunate ones. I am sure if we all unite together at this crucial period, we can surely have many more great Onams in future. Stay safe and be safe.
Dr Vibu Bose
Executive Director, Ahalia Medical Group
Onam is the celebration of happiness, well-being and prosperity in the world. Similar to all other festivals, Onam also brings new rays of positive hope and optimism in life. This year Onam will be remembered for ever, as it's been celebrated in the midst of a global pandemic. Today, the biggest hope is for a successful vaccine against the Covid-19 pandemic. People are desperately want to go back to their normal life. Wish we will have the good news so soon.
V K Hareendran
Managing Director, Majestic Optics - Abu Dhabi
The festival of Onam holds an enormous amount of significance in my life, especially after spending so many decades away from home. This time, unlike past years, the festival, which is a community event for a month, wil be celebrated with close family members due to the current scenario. Nevertheless, keeping up the spirit of Onam, I wish everyone a very Happy Onam.
Dr Arun Aravind
Specialist Access Clinic, Aster DM Healthcare
All my memories of Onam are in Dubai. Our cousins used to come and we used to gather at home and enjoy Onam sadhya. This year its very different. Because of the Covid-19 challenges, we are not allowed to gather and maintain social distancing. There is a lot of restrictions this year and we should all respect the regulations. Only then can we contain the pandemic. Celebrate Onam but with social distancing.
Unit Nursing Coordinator, Aster Naïf Deira
Onam is the harvest festival in Kerala. Earlier we used to get together and celebrate. But this year I would not be celebrating at Aster Clinic because of the Covid situation. If people wish to celebrate, I would advise maintaining social distancing. Positive cases are ongoing so I am going to do my bit and stay away from meeting people.
Content Director, Hit 96.7FM
Since childhood, Onam has always been about togetherness - having relatives come over to our homes, seeing people we haven't seen in a long time and having fun. The one thing I admire about it is that despite being associated with Hindu mythology, it is still a fairly celebrated festival across Kerala, and anywhere Malayali are, especially in Dubai.
For me, Onam celebrations for the past 16 years has been with the Hit 96.7 FM team and our listeners. We've dined together and even upp'd the game with an onasadhya in Burj Al Arab. We also had the biggest onasadhya ever with 1,000 people.
We also used to host Onam roadshows in malls across the UAE where people could participate in games that are usually played in Kerala during the festive season.
In Dubai, Onam celebrations usually stretch up to Christmas time because we have events taking place every weekend.
Celebrations this year will be different; we are hosting onasadhya lunch in 11 restaurants across the UAE. We will dine at the same time around 12 noon, while being connected via Zoom - where we will talk to each other and share memories despite being far apart.
This year, I would like to wish everyone a very happy Onam with enough social distancing among them. This is one year we have to be very responsible - dress up, eat out and enjoy sadhya but keep in mind that Covid-19 is still around us and we have to maintain all the norms.
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