UAE: Hour-long queues, sold-out meals, sea of gold and white; how Indian expats celebrated Onam

Thousands of residents came together to enjoy the sumptuous Onam 'Sadhya' feast at various restaurants


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Photo: Rahul Gajjar/KT
Photo: Rahul Gajjar/KT

Published: Tue 29 Aug 2023, 2:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 29 Aug 2023, 10:26 PM

To say that Dubai’s Karama has several restaurants dishing out delicacies from the south Indian state of Kerala would be an understatement.

You can find a Malayalee restaurant in every block. Yet, all of them saw queues that extended for several metres on Tuesday, as Malayalee expats lined up for the traditional feast of Onam.

Men were spotted sporting a silk shirt and a mundu (A garment consisting of a rectangular cloth that is wrapped around the waist, worn by men in Kerala), while women adorned their hair with flowers.

Photo: Rahul Gajjar/KT
Photo: Rahul Gajjar/KT
Photo: Rahul Gajjar/KT
Photo: Rahul Gajjar/KT

Thousands of residents came together to enjoy the sumptuous Onam 'Sadhya' feast at various restaurants.

Long queues were seen at many restaurants like Dhe Puttu, Aramam, City Makhani, and Ikkayees, where the waiting time ranged from 20 minutes to nearly 1 and a half hours. Some restaurants delivered special feasts of around 10,000 packets. “We started our preparation early morning around 5 am,” said Salman, manager at Aaramam in Karama.

Photo: Rahul Gajjar/KT
Photo: Rahul Gajjar/KT

“We are expecting over 3,000 guests today, starting from 11.30am until 3.30pm at seven of our branches,” he added.

At Dhe Puttu restaurant, people queued up as early as 11am to find a seat. “We have been receiving overwhelming response from the Malayali community as well as diverse ethnic groups residing in the UAE,” said Sandeep, manager at Dhe Puttu.

“We have already delivered nearly 1,000 packets of Onam sadhya and are expecting over 800 guests for just lunch today,” the manager added.

These restaurants were closed for breakfast today due to preparation for the grand feast. The interiors have been decorated with floral arrangements and traditional motifs, creating an ambiance that resonates with the festive season of Kerala. Malayalam and Onam special songs were being sung and played at the restaurants to heighten the festive mood.

“The distinct flavours and textures of each dish transport us back to our hometowns, which brings a sense of nostalgia and belongingness,” said Priya Menon, who came along with her family, taking a day off from her office.

Employees comprising of three nationalities — Indian, Pakistan and Philipinos — of Premium First Choice celebrated Onam at Aramam restaurant. “We get together every Onam at a nearby restaurant. Our employees from Philippines and Pakistan loves the delicacies,” said Aaliya Mohammed from Premium First Choice.

Prashanth Chandragupta, a sales executive at Pure Health came along with his ex-colleagues for Onam feast. “Every year, we get along for lunch on Onam. It has been a tradition for us,” said Prashanth.

Alwin Crasta, an Indian expat from Mangalore is one among Prashanth’s friend who celebrated Onam with them. “It's wonderful to see the diverse community in Dubai embrace and celebrate our traditions. The Onam Sadhya is not just a meal, it's an expression of unity and joy,” said Crasta.


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