Dubai: With Diwali fever gripping Indian expats, nights in Dubai have become more luminous.
Facades of rows of buildings can be seen glowing with the light decorations in areas like Bur Dubai, Meena Bazaar, Mankhool, Karama etc. where Indian expats live in high numbers.
Some Indian schools and many private firms have given holiday for Diwali on Wednesday, while many working in other places are taking leave to enjoy the festivities. Classical music and dance institutes in the city are also celebrating the festival with much fervour.
Al Seef Street in Dubai has become the hotspot for Diwali festivities this year with a 10-day carnival offering a variety of activities and a Diwali market.
Among the activities not to be missed are a dazzling fireworks display, Dubai’s first official one for Diwali, which will take place at 8.30pm on Wednesday and a Guinness World Record attempt for the most number of people lighting up LED lights in a relay happening from 5pm to 8pm at Al Seef Dhow Deck on Saturday.
Sweet shops have been abuzz with customers making pre-orders for and buying Diwali sweets, said Pankaj Agarwal, director at Bikanervala which opened a couple of stores ahead of the festive season.
“Traditionally, motichoor laddu, rasmalai and kaju burfi are hot selling items during this season. We have introduced more milk based sweets, new packaging and some variety items like chana burfi and chana bites,” he said.
Renuka Parameswar, a music teacher from Tamil Nadu said lighting diyas, putting rangolis, taking oil bath early in the morning, wearing new clothes and making and distributing sweets and savouries are also very much part of Diwali celebrations.
No Diwali ceremony is complete without flowers, an integral part of pujas and decorations at households. And Indians in Dubai are slowly moving online for purchasing flowers and other Diwali decorative items, said Sunita Anchan, founder of www.arpan.ae, an online store offering same day delivery of these items.
“People love the convenience of seeing and booking the flowers and other products from wherever they are 24x7. They get to do a lot more [in terms of designs] about the flowers after seeing them on the site. If they forget something, they can order again. No need to beat the traffic and go all the way to purchase diyas, candles, decorative items, gifting products or fresh flowers.”
Dhanteras sparks gold purchases
Whether their choice is traditional or trendy design, Indians’ obsession with gold comes out during Dhanteras and Diwali.
Indian expats in Dubai are no exceptions in showing their traditionally-known sentimental attachment to the yellow metal during the festival season celebrating the triumph of good over evil.
Manpreet Bhandari, who was purchasing gold and diamond ornaments on Monday, said her family makes it a point to purchase gold on Dhanteras every year.
“It is considered auspicious. Everyone buys something small or big every year.
If it is a big purchase, we usually keep it for this occasion. We buy it for the family and our employees,” said Bhandari, whose family owns a steel manufacturing and trading company.
With gold prices often being volatile and the young generation switching to other ornaments, many have reasons to doubt if gold is losing its glitter.
However, some of the major retailers in Dubai say it is never the case with Indian expats here as they are seeing an increased footfall during the festive season considered to be an auspicious occasion to buy gold.
While the demand for traditional jewellery still holds good, Anil Dhanak, managing director of Kanz Jewels, said customer tastes have evolved from traditional to trendy and modern designs.
“But, I would never say gold is losing its charm or glitter. In fact, I would say jewellery as a whole is seeing a revival as customers are appreciating the design and quality factor rather than seeing gold only as an investment. It is an exciting time for us and we are looking forward to meeting the changing needs of this market.”
Gold jewellery is a part of Indian culture for thousands of years, said Shamlal Ahmad, managing director – International Operations, Malabar Gold and Diamonds.
“Gold still plays a crucial role in the rituals and as an adornment in traditional festivals like Diwali, Akshaya Tritiya, Onam, etc as well as in celebrations like wedding, anniversary, birthdays, etc.”
“It is still one of the most preferred forms of gifting. However, we see changes in the designs and usage of gold jewellery as it has to match their overall identity and outfits. The other change we have been witnessing for a few years now is the increase in preference for diamond jewellery and solitaires,” said Ahmad.
Customers are still inclined towards gold as it is considered a sign of prosperity and an ideal investment option, said Joy Alukkas, chairman and managing director, Joyalukkas Group.
“For centuries, Indians are emotionally and traditionally attached to gold. If you follow the trend over the last decade, in fact, there has been a surge of demand for gold, especially during auspicious celebrations. People have more options in gold nowadays, in terms of designs and hues, but gold continues to be the top priority in jewellery for customers.”