Masks, gloves become part of Onam in UAE this year

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Masks, UAE, gloves, part of Onam, this year

Dubai - Families enjoyed 'sadhya, a multiple course meal served on a banana leaf.

By Dhanusha Gokulan and Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Mon 31 Aug 2020, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 1 Sep 2020, 8:23 AM

Malayalis in the UAE on Monday celebrated Onam - Kerala's harvest festival - in what they called a 'grand and safe' manner.
The significant harvest festival usually comes with celebrations that take place for about ten days and falls in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam, August or September in the Gregorian calendar.
Like usual, homes were adorned with a flower bed of decorations called "athapookalam", and families enjoyed 'sadhya, a multiple course meal served on a banana leaf.
But there was another staple this year - in one centre in Dubai, staff who took part in the celebrations were seen wearing masks and gloves while performing thiruvathirakali, a traditional dance in Kerala.
Aaditya Sanghavi, manager of Ontario Wellness Ayurvedic Centre, told Khaleej Times: "Every year we celebrate Onam in a grand style, especially since it is not limited to religious boundaries. This year, too, we had an athapookalam, onasadhya, and thiruvathirakali. Our staff and therapists performed songs and cultural programmers were organised as well."
"However, all staff members wore gloves and masks, including King Maveli, as per Dubai Health Authority and Ministry of Health and Prevention protocols," said Aaditya.
In Abu Dhabi, festivities were largely restricted to homes and restaurants for the feast.
Since it Monday was a working day, for most families, the traditional feast had been possible only for dinner time.
Just like in the case of Salini Raji, a homemaker, who was left to celebrate with children Adhithyan and Athira, as her husband was away at work.
"This was a different Onam on many counts. I never knew my husband would be on duty. Children were also disappointed. But then on Sunday he had bought loads of flowers. So we enjoyed making the Onam 'pookkalam' and 'sadya'. Now there will be another feast at night but with whole family in attendance."
While they recognise that Onam is a big festival, doctors have recommended that people celebrate only with close family members. Large gatherings should be strictly avoided.
"This year, the celebrations are subdued because of obvious reasons. Let us all celebrate Onam in our hearts and souls. We must take all precautions and keep social distancing as a priority," said Dr Azad Moopen, founder chairman and managing director, Aster DM Healthcare
"Share celebratory pictures with extended family and friends on social media. This keeps the entire community safe," said Dr Mohamed Shafeeq, internal medicine specialist at Medeor Hospital, Dubai. 

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