Dubai: The long stretch of shops in Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai stand basking in the glow of thousands of neon lights that weave luminous patterns on building balconies and street posts.
The area is one of the oldest Indian enclaves in Dubai, where an ostentatious celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, spills out to the street in nothing less than an annual ritual.
In the words of Meena Ramchandani, who has lived in the area for the last 32 years, "The real Diwali is in Bur Dubai. I cannot be anywhere but here to celebrate Diwali," said the mother of two.
"Even my daughter who is settled in Spain is visiting us so that she does not miss the celebrations in Bur Dubai. The fervour and spirit of celebrations are unmatched anywhere," she added.
At 57, Meena says she does not miss her hometown Mumbai and its festive spirit when the streets of Meena Bazaar and its adjacent areas covering the textile market are lit up to commemorate the Hindu deity Ram's return to his kingdom after 14 years of vanvaas (banishment to the forest).
Diwali or Deepavali is celebrated by Hindus as a sign of the triumph of good over evil as one mythological belief commemorates the day as the killing of evil demon Narakasura by Krishna, another Indian deity.
Rows of diyas or clay lamps are lighted with oil after tidying up the house, to welcome Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity. Traditionally, it is marked by the end of a financial year for businesses and hence the blessings are invoked from the deity Lakshmi for a prosperous year ahead.
"It is a tradition to submit your accounts books for Lakshmi pooja thanking for the bounty and praying for a better year ahead. Now we do pooja on our computers because that is where our debit and credit account are maintained," said Lakhi Ramchandani, CEO of Texmas, a textile merchant's association in Bur Dubai.
Ramchandani said tomorrow, the Association is arranging a grand luncheon for the 430 members of Texmas, bringing together all businessmen for a fresh start of a year.
Ritu Patel who runs Gift Box, a gifting service said it is the most exciting festival for the entire family as celebrations extend for weeks. "From October onwards, families start planning parties and every week there are social visits. It is lot of fun. I feel that in Dubai, we celebrate it with greater fervour," said Ritu.
Diwali also brings brisk business for gold and sweet shops too as buying the yellow metal and distributing sweets are integral aspects of the Diwali spirit. According to market sources, the skyrocketing price of gold has not thrown a damper to the gold rush this year too.
In the midst of today's busy lifestyle, Diwali gives an opportunity to pause and be grateful for what we have, to make special memories with family and friends, to laugh and enjoy what life offers us. Though the festival of Dipavali has undergone some changes, in due course of time, yet it has continued to be celebrated since the time immemorial. Every year, the festive season of Diwali comes back with all the excitement and merriment. At this point of time i am very upset as many friends of mine are faraway from me and i am sad that i cant celebrate Diwali with them. Times may have undergone a sea change but customs and traditions remain the same.With the evolution of the lifestyle, there has been certain change in the way people celebrate Diwali, as more and more technology has been included, but the zeal and the spirit of celebration remains the same. i still remember when during my school days i used to live with a community in one building and we had a close knit relationship. i used to get involved in Diwali celebrations buying sweets, bursting crackers along with my other buddy's. I cant imagine celebrating Diwali with out bursting crackers.Gone are those days when we used to greet and share those beautiful Diwali moments with out neighbours. although i do not belong to the Hindu community i must say that Even today Diwali is such a wonderful festival a time of giving and sharing a time to catch up with people in other words time to catch up with little joys that we keep over looking for the remaining part of the year. Happy Diwali to Every One.