The Indian flag will be displayed on Burj Khalifa to celebrate the Indian Independence day in Dubai. File Photo Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Indian expatriates in the UAE started celebrating 72nd Indian Independence Day on Wednesday morning. And by evening, even Burj Khalifa joined the festivities - it lit up in the Indian tricolour.

In the morning, hundreds of Indians thronged at the Indian diplomatic missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, chanting patriotic songs and waving the tricolour.

The Indian flag was hoisted at Indian Consulate in Dubai on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day.

In Abu Dhabi, Indian expatriates from all walks of life turned up in large numbers at the embassy to attend the colourful ceremony.

Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, hoisted the national flag. He read out the Indian president's address to the nation on the eve of the Independence Day.

While addressing the gathering, the ambassador appreciated the presence of blue-collar workers in the ceremony. He said most of the attendees [while-collar class] should not feel it inconvenient to stay outdoors under the sun for a while because the blue-collar workers bear it every day without any complaints.

He told the workers that the embassy’s doors are always open to them. The envoy asked them to take advantage of the ‘Open House’ policy of the embassy that helps Indian nationals to meet any senior official of the embassy without appointment between 9am and 12pm on all working days.

Suri highlighted the pro-active role taken by the embassy, expatriate Indian associations and Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra [formerly IWRC, the embassy’s support centre] to reach out to eligible Indian nationals for availing of ongoing visa Amnesty offered by UAE government to regularize their stay or leave the country without penalties. 

He also invited Indian, Emirati and other foreign youth to participate in the Know India Quiz which will not only help them to familiarize and understand India but also provide a chance to win fully paid fortnight-long trips to India to attend Republic Day Parade at the famous Raj Path in New Delhi and several other cities.

Ambassador urged schools to participate in larger numbers in the Ambassador Cup Soccer tournament for schoolgirls in January 2019.

In a short cultural programme  at the embassy auditorium, Troilee Dutta and Soumen Hazra made a mesmerizing performance on  Sarod and Tabla.

Bhutte Manganiar Group from Rajasthan, who were  flew in from India for the occasion, sang patriotic songs and members of Indian Ladies Association performed  an enthralling dance.  

Ambassador along with Counsellor M Rajamurugan and First Secretary  Pooja Vernekar visited Al Shahama Amnesty Centre and expressed their  solidarity with the fellow Indian workers seeking to avail of the UAE visa amnesty.

The Indian Ambassador Navdeep Suri interact with Indian Amnesty Seekers at the Amnesty Centre in Al Shahama in Abu Dhabi and exchange Independence Day greetings with them.

Expats speak:

Ramzan Ali, 30, a cleaner from Uttar Pradesh said the event reminded him his journey to village school with his three children on the Independence Day every year. “Since my children started going to school, I was accompanying them for Independence Day celebrations without fail. I miss it for past two years,” said Ali who reached Abu Dhabi two years ago.

Shiva Kumar, 28, an electrician from Tamil Nadu, he was attending an Independence Day ceremony after many years. “I used to attend it as a kid at my school. After that there was no such an opportunity.”

He felt proud to be part of the celebration alongside fellow Indians from all walks of life.

Om Prakash, 35, a welder from Bihar, said it was a pleasant experience to celebrate Independence Day in a foreign land at the India’s embassy. “Back home we used to celebrate it in a grand way at our labour accommodation with my fellow workers. This reminded me of those colourful experiences.”

Celebrations in Dubai

Braving the heat and humidity, hundreds of patriotic Indian expatriates gathered to usher in India's 72nd Independence Day at the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

Sumathi Vasudev, the acting Counsel General hoisted the Indian tricolor to the notes of the Indian National Anthem which ended with the chants of Jai Hind and Bharat Mata ki Jai.

Hundreds of of Indian expats at Indian Consulate gather as the President’s speech is read out for the country’s Independence Day.

Later, in her address to the audience, Vasudev said India stood at a very crucial juncture of history.

"We are at the cusp of achieving our long awaited dreams such as complete electrification of villages, homes for the underprivileged, end to open defecation, cooking gas in every home ...it's a pivotal movement for India," she said.

Vasudev pointed out that we were on track to celebrate our 72nd independence and centenary in due course which was not far behind and it was important to keep up the momentum of socio- economic investments and actions and decisions in the right direction now.

Holding up the instance of grassroots progress made she particularly pointed out to the Gram Samaj Abhiyan which has focused on villages to bring them services like insurance, immunization, banking, electrification, clean energy all to their door step .

She also reminded the audience that India would be observing the 150 birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2.

"Gandhiji stood for ideals of non- violence, equality and cleanliness." She reminded people the relevance of these ideals of modern India too.

She called upon the countrymen to work relentlessly towards these goals. "India does not belong to the government, it belongs to all the people."

The celebrations included multicultural performances with patriotic songs and traditional and folk dances.

People speak

Sundar Nurani and his wife Vishalakshy Sundar have never missed a single Independence Day event at the consulate for the last 20 years. The couple both chartered accountants by profession feel strongly about their country of birth.

"As a child I loved going to school for flag hoisting, singing the national anthem and enjoying the patriotic fervour. When I came to Dubai in 1998 I made it a point to be part of every Independence Day at the consulate. I get to relive all my childhood memories, "said Nurani, 50.

Vishalakshy, 47, added that every year on August 15, they take special permission from their office to come in late. "Our bosses are benevolent and understand that on August 15 we will be at work an hour late. I never miss the flag hoisting and am incredibly proud to be an Indian," she said.

Saifuddin Bhavnagarwala, 81, visiting his son in Dubai came on a wheelchair to witness the flag hoisting. Retiring after 30 years of service as an electric foreman from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), India's nuclear facility, Bhavnagarwala said : " I live in Nala Sopara in Mumbai and attend every Independence Day event at our housing society . So it was important for me to attend this here."

Prabhdeep Singh, 35, living in Dubai for 11 years belongs to a family of army generals and feels strongly about serving his country. "Two of my uncles retired as Major Generals from the Indian army and several cousins of mine have joined the army. I have at least seven friends in the army and so my sentiment for my country is very strong. Wherever I am I like to celebrate with the same enthusiasm that my parents and family do in India," said Singh, a chartered accountant who has not missed a single hoisting of the Indian Tricolour for the last 7 years.