Dubai: Bazaars in the city wear a festive look while colourful illuminations and floral decor adorn many houses across the emirate as the Hindu community here celebrates Diwali, the festival of lights, today.
Heavy rush can be witnessed at sweet shops, gift shops and outlets selling items used in prayers such as oil lamps and candles. The items used in prayers are being sold at many supermarkets like Lulu and are also available in the temple area of Bur Dubai.
"I bought gifts for my friends and relatives earlier this week, and will buy sweets tomorrow. It is the biggest festival for us and we visit friends during the day but stay at home at night as we perform the puja [prayer ritual] and have a special dinner which includes sweets," said Anuradha, a Bur Dubai resident.
"We spruce up the house. In fact, cleaning has been going on for two weeks to welcome the deity Lakshmi, [deity of wealth], on Diwali night. Back home we also burst crackers," she said.
"On Diwali, we welcome our friends and relatives to our house; anyone is welcome to drop in and be part of the celebrations," said K. Kumar, a resident, who is also the convenor of Indian Community Welfare Committee (ICWC).
The main day of the celebrations, which started on Monday with Dhanteras, is today (Wednesday) when devotees will offer prayers to Lakshmi, and will culminate with Bhai Dooj, a day to honour the bond between brothers and sisters. People exchange gifts and give sweets to friends and relatives to celebrate the festival,
People could be seen carrying gift items in the markets of Bur Dubai and Deira.
"I am buying chocolates and dried fruits for friends and relatives. For our puja day, we will go for the traditional sweets," said Isha, who was carrying several shopping bags in Bur Dubai.
Shops selling gold and silver are also doing brisk business. Retailers said their sales reached a peak during the festive season.
Meena Bazaar was chock-a-block with people rushing to buy gold on Dhanteras on Monday evening and retailers said the enthusiasm continues throughout the festival. Many jewellers have come out with special offers ranging from lucky draws to cashback offers and gifts to attract more customers. "It is the best time of the year for us. Sales increase significantly and, particularly in areas with heavy Indian population like Bur Dubai, Deira and Karama, the demand for jewellery is quite high," said Cyriac Varghese, general manager, Sky Jewellery.
"It is an auspicious time to buy anything and I opted to buy some gold and also silver items yesterday. We also buy new clothes to wear on Diwali," said Rajesh Sharma, another resident.
For many residents, the celebrations will involve going out for cultural programmes across the emirate. Several cultural nights and events have also been lined up for this weekend.
Lighting up others' lives
For some, Diwali, the festival of lights, is about adding lights to the lives of others. Pali Chandra, a renowned Kathak performer, organised ‘Diwali ke Rang', a charity fundraiser workshop, the donations from which would go for visually challenged girls.
"Diwali is the perfect festival to bring colour and light into the lives of people whose world is dark. The money we have raised will help in the treatment of five visually-impaired girls in Rakum school in Bangalore," said Chandra.
Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, a charitable organisation, will be giving food kits to blue-collared workers. "We will be giving food kits that would last one month to several people next week," said K. V. Shamsudheen, chairman of the trust.