Dubai: Many Indian Muslims in the UAE on Sunday decided to scale down their Eid Al Adha celebrations and instead offer support and cheer to their brothers and sisters reeling in flood-hit districts back home.
Monsoon rains have again caused massive flooding in the Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra, killing at least 114 people as of Sunday morning, and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee to higher ground.
Reshma Sainulabdeen, art teacher and sand artist from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, said that though they were spared from the deluge this time, they could not celebrate Eid Al Adha with the usual fanfare because many of their compatriots are suffering.
“This Eid Al Adha, we’re not celebrating like always. We are just coming together as a family. Some of the people affected by the floods cannot prepare food at home. Even here, we know of a salon where all the ladies working there are from Kerala. They are all very sad because their families back home are suffering. So we’ll cook some meals to share with them. We want to make them happy and pray for them,” Sainulabdeen told Gulf News.
The mother of two said she will fly home on Tuesday to help with the relief operations.
“We want to help people there, they are our brothers and sisters. We will be distributing some rice, napkins, food, baby products, bedsheets and blankets. Today as we speak, some people are also cooking food for the flood victims back home.”
Dubai-based Ismail Meladi, who is also from Kerala, will skip the celebrations altogether.
“In solidarity with my brothers and sisters who have lost their loved ones and those who are still struggling to survive in the ravaging floods in Kerala, I have decided to keep away from any celebrations this Eid. This Eid will be all about prayers,” Meladi said.
“Most of my friends are doing the same thing. We’re not in a mood to celebrate. There are still so many people buried in landslides. This is not a time to celebrate when we see our brothers and sisters suffering,” he added.
Instead of buying animal sacrifices, Meladi said he and his friends have decided to send the money home to help people taking refuge in camps.
Nandi Nazar, a social worker based in Dubai, is also sending help along with his compatriots.
“We are giving water and other basic necessities through our programme called ‘Change a Life, Save a Life. We will buy these basic necessities from there only today because they are needed urgently. We will send other relief materials on Monday as well,” Nazar said.
The social worker, however, urged everyone and the government to rethink their ways to keep these natural disasters from happening again.
“We have to be careful. We have to build sustainably. We have to think of the environment so this won’t have to happen again. Don’t be reactionary. We have to open our eyes. We have to save the country,” he said.
Other non-Muslim expatriate communities in the UAE are also pitching in to help. Pankaj Ramesh Aute, a printing engineer from Sangli district in Maharashtra, is meeting with other community members to know how they can help.
“My family is safe but my house is affected, so is my whole village,” Aute said. “Our main thrust as an organisation is help for the long-term as many organisations are already giving aid for the most basic needs at the moment.”
Aute said he has arranged and partnered with psychologists, doctors and health care workers back home to look after the psycho-social needs of the flood victims.