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Indians doing Diwali shopping in Madhoor supermarket in Bur Dubai. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Image Credit:

Dubai: The COVID-19 pandemic has failed to dampen the spirit of Diwali celebrations in Dubai.

While local authorities and commercial establishments have announced a series of Diwali-related events and promotional sales, the Indian Consulate in Dubai will host an interfaith Diwali celebration on Thursday and the largest community fest, called Deepavali Utsav, will happen online while families will be largely celebrating at their homes.

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Indians doing Diwali shopping in Madhoor supermarket in Bur Dubai. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

What is Diwali

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the Hindu festival of lights and usually witnesses one of the biggest celebrations of Indians back home and abroad as well. Leaders of multi-faith communities in the UAE will attend the celebrations at Indian mission premises in Dubai, a spokesperson told Gulf News on Tuesday.

“We have got confirmation from places of worship like the gurudwara, churches and temple about the participation of officials and heads of various religious communities,” said Neeraj Agrawal, Consul for Press, Information and Culture at the Indian Consulate. Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai, will also speak on the occasion.

Agrawal said the consulate will also make use of the opportunity to honour officials of Dubai Police for their continued support for the community’s events and thank them for the frontline services during the pandemic. A few traditional dances from different Indian states will also be showcased.

Celebrate responsibly

The ceremony, organised in cooperation with FOI Events as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, will be held in compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols, said N. Mohan, CSR coordinator of FOI Events. The Indian Consulate has also urged Indian expatriates to follow all the precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus while celebrating Diwali.

“Celebrate Diwali responsibly this year,” the mission said in a tweet.

The mission has urged Indian expats to maintain social distancing norms, wear masks and follow other safety guidelines issued by the local authorities.

The consulate has also been sharing posts from Indian ministries that advocate a safe Diwali during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mohan said the Deepavali Utsav, which had seen the participation of about 10,000 people in the past couple of years, has moved online this year due to the pandemic.

“We have been organising it with the consulate and Dubai Police has also been participating in the fest for the past two years. The police band performed the national anthems of both the countries and students from Dubai Police also showcased different types of band performances.”

Under the theme Unity in Diversity, the event last year had seen 100 teams take part in ‘rangoli’ design competitions. There were state-wise traditional dance performances by participants from 14 Indian states.

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Rangolis made by Indian expats for the online Deepavali Utsav

One World One Family

This year’s theme is One World One Family. The main online event, to be held on Friday evening, will be streamed on various social media platforms. An online ‘rangoli’ competition had already been held last Friday. “There were 56 teams competing from homes. Considering the safety precautions, the number of team members was limited to three this year. They had to keep the camera on from 3pm to 5pm, during which they had to make rangolis,” said Mohan.

The highlights of the competition and winners’ works will be streamed during the main online event while the winning team has been given a chance to put the same ‘rangoli’ at the consulate event.

Dance performances by participants from 15 states have been recorded for streaming on Friday, said Mohan. He said traditional games played during yesteryears have also been recorded, to be aired for the benefit of the new generation to make them understand the physical, mental and emotional benefits of those games.

The food fest held as part of the celebration will also continue online with participants virtually sharing recipes of the festive season. “We want to showcase Diwali or Deepavali as not just a Hindu festival. It is a festival [that marks the victory] of light over darkness and good over evil. It is for everyone to celebrate,” he added.

Meanwhile, the upcoming Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi has also invited devotees to participate in online Diwali celebrations. People can now share photos and videos of their ‘rangolis’ and other celebrations on the website of the BAPS Hindu Mandir.