Being together for Diwali celebrations is important for Nimesh Jethi and family and that's why his mother and sister fly to Dubai from Ahmedabad every year for the festival. - Photos by Shihab
Dubai - We went to some Indian families in Dubai to get the real 'Diwali' feel and experience.
Lamps, fire-crackers, lots of noise, music and family get-togethers best define Diwali celebrations in India.
For those who have Dubai as the second home or the only home, Diwali brings back the memories and give some nostalgic days. Most of the apartments and villas in Bur Dubai, Karama and Meena Bazaar areas of Dubai are dazzling with colourful lanterns, lights, candles and diyas now. Homes are decorated with fresh marigold flowers, mesmerising rangoli art work (vermilion powder) and traditional wall hangings.
We went to some Indian families in Dubai to get the real 'Diwali' feel and experience.
40 years of Diwali in Dubai
Three generations come together to light the lamps of happiness, positivity and prosperity at the Rajwani family.
Narayan Rajwani and Deepa Rajwani have some fond memories of their first Diwali in Dubai, 40 years ago. The couple was newly married then and was extremely excited to celebrate the festival on the foreign land.
"It used to be a simple and sweet celebration at home with my husband and kids. We used to clean the house in advance, decorate it with beautiful things and relatives would come over for dinner. Honestly, I missed India a lot during Diwali in the first few years but then got used to it. And now, I hardly feel away from home. Dubai is my only home now, everyone is here," said Deepa Rajwani.
There is a tradition of making special biryani with seven vegetables in the family on Diwali and also giving 'kharchi' (cash) as a gift to the young members of the family. They also buy new household things during the festive season as it is considered auspicious.
"I was just two years old when my parents came to Dubai. I have celebrated all my Diwalis here. Every year it got bigger and better with more family members joining in and now my kids are here to do the same. It's a grand evening for all of us... Traditional clothes, eating and putting lots of weight, and having good time together," said Deepa's daughter Dhristi while adjusting lamps.
Flown from India for Diwali
For last 10 years, Nimesh Jethi's mother and sister had been flying to Dubai to join him for the special day. For this Gujarati family, being together during the festival is the most precious thing. For them, Diwali celebrations start from Navratri days itself with Dandiya and Garba dance performances in community gatherings.
On Diwali, first thing in the morning they do is prayer and seek blessings from the elders. They also make variety of traditional dishes like sukhdi (Gujarati sweets), chiwda and poori papdi (savouries). Wearing new clothes and jewellery is an integral part of the observance.
|Diwali FactsIt is the Hindu festival of lights and signifies victory of light over darkness or good over evil. It is one of the major festivals of Hinduism.|
Before Diwali, people clean and renovate their homes and offices, and decorate with lights.
On Diwali, people do Lakshmi Puja (worship Goddess of wealth) in the homes and offices. It is believed that through prayers peace, prosperity and wealth come in life.
Wearing new clothes, exchanging sweets and firing crackers is a part of Diwali celebration. Children seek blessing of the elders on this day and get gifts or cash in return.
Diwali nights are marked with grand feasts inviting neighbors, friends and relatives for food and sweets. In many parts of India there is a tradition of playing cards and other games on Diwali night.
Diwali is celebrated in different styles in different part of the India but with the same spirit and enthusiasm.
They also celebrate Diwali as Gujarati New Year or Business year. They believe in worshiping their business accounts on that day. There is a tradition of taking a round with auspicious stick in the whole home as well.
Jahnvi Jethi, Nimesh's sister who came from Ahmedabad, feels that Dubai is more lively, colourful and loud during this time. "I think the festive environment is better and safe than India here. People enjoy but in a very systematic manner, which is good for everyone."
After completing the rituals at home, family starts meeting and greeting friends and relatives. They also invite people at their place for dinner or exchange of sweets.
"This is the only time in the whole year when we spend good quality time together. I never feel away from home here as my mom and sister come here for the festival every year," said Nimesh.
A special celebration
Veena and Devraj Badiger came to Dubai from Mumbai some five years ago. Despite being new to the place, they never felt away from home but definitely miss their parents and families. Every year during the festival, they send online gifts and sweets for their family members back in Mumbai.
"We start Diwali preparations almost a month ago with cleaning and painting the house and sending gifts to our relatives based in India. I am sending beautiful diyas (lamps) and my mother in law's favourite sweets for her," said Veena.
"We will be buying a lot of things for the house and my younger son this time as it is his first Diwali," she added.
Originally from Karnataka, Badiger family believes in following the rituals and culture very strongly. They light lamps outside the home for five consecutive days before the festival and make every day rangoli designs. Making traditional karenji (sweets) and chakli (salty snack) is a must for them.
"Diwali is the time of happiness, joy and exchanging sweets. We miss the noisy streets of Mumbai and of course, the fun with friends," said Devraj.
For the Rajwani family, Dubai is their first home and they have three generations at their home here. Narayan and Deepa Rajwani came to Dubai 40 years ago and have since been celebrating Diwali here.