Dubai: A Dubai-based 11-year-old Indian girl on Friday dived off the coast of Fujairah to send out an underwater greeting on the eve of the ‘Nuakhai’ agricultural festival celebrated in her home state of Odisha in eastern India.
Tisya Panigrahi, a Grade 6 student of Raffles World Academy in Dubai, was accompanied by her father Priyadarshee Panigrahi in the dive – both are certified scuba divers.
The duo dived some 40 feet into the sea at the ‘Dibba Rock’ dive site to wish people on the occasion of Nuakhai. The word ‘Nua’ means new and ‘Khai’ means food; the name Nuakhai is representative of the fact that farmers are in possession of the newly harvested rice – symbolic of a new ray of hope.
How the dive went down
Both divers travelled on a diving boat to their dive site and jumped into the sea in full diving gear. After descending to a depth of around 40 feet, amidst colourful coral reefs and diverse marine life, they took out celebratory placards and sent out their wishes. One of the placards read ‘Nuakhai Juhar’, which is the traditional way to greet people on this festival, while other placard read ‘Happy Nuakhai’.
The dive was organised through the UAE’s Al Boom Diving school. Diving instructor Hani El Hajjar, a Lebanese expat, helped the daughter-father team by taking photos and videos using an underwater camera.
Gulf News had earlier reported how Tisya had become one of the youngest certified scuba divers in the UAE when she obtained her PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Junior Open Water Scuba Diver License at a young age of 10 in August 2020.
‘Itching to dive again’
Her father Priyadarshee, who works as a general manager for a Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company in the UAE, said: “If a licensed scuba diver doesn’t dive for more than six months, he or she has to do a refresher course. Our last dives were on the April 4 and we were itching to dive again. We chose September 10 for our dives and then realised that September 11 happened to be Nuakhai… We decided to do something unique and special on this occasion and this idea [for the underwater greeting] germinated.”
Tisya said: “Diving is something that I enjoy a lot and the idea of doing something extra while diving was nice. It was fun to hold the placards and pose for pictures and videos. Nuakhai has many memories for me. I particularly like the festival because we get to dress in traditional clothes, dance to peppy Sambalpuri songs and get great traditional foods.”