Indians in the UAE celebrate Diwali with lights, gold and the sweetest sweets

The Hindu festival of lights marks the new year on the Hindu calendar and the homecoming of Rama, the ancient King of Ayodhya, after 14 years in exile following his defeat of the demon king Ravana.

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DUBAI // Indians in the UAE will be marking Diwali with lights, gold and plenty of sweets over the next few days.

Many decorated their balconies and gardens with rows of colourful lamps as they welcomed the Hindu festival of lights.

A number of apartment buildings in Bur Dubai and Karama were entirely decked out with electric lights as residents tried to recreate the festive spirit of home.

Some expats, such as Norzeen Tenzing, 30, had gone all the way to make the festival special for friends.

“I have bought ceramic bowls and have decorated them as ethnically as possible,” said the housewife.

“This is my Diwali basket with sweets for friends. We have a dinner on Thursday night with friends. Any guest coming to my house for the first time will also get gifts.”

The Hindu festival of lights, which fell yesterday in south India and today in the north, marks the new year on the Hindu calendar and the homecoming of Rama, the ancient King of Ayodhya, after 14 years in exile following his defeat of the demon king, Ravana.

Hindus decorate their homes with colourful lights and lamps to reflect the victory of light and virtue over darkness.

Ms Tenzing said she had not celebrated Diwali before marriage.

“I am from the north eastern parts of India and we don’t celebrate Diwali there,” she said. “But, since my husband is from the south, it is a tradition in his family to have an oil bath, buy new clothes and meet relatives. Diwali is also about eating a lot of sweets.”

And that was evident in a number of sweet shops, which were doing brisk business yesterday. Many Indians were seen queuing in shops to pick up boxes of sweets for family and friends.

“We are doing really good business,” said Abhay Agarwal, managing director of Puranmal, a sweet shop with 16 branches in Dubai and Sharjah. “There is a festive mood and people are really keen to buy.”

He said hampers, sweets with chocolates and different nuts were the most popular in his shops, which had stopped catering to their regular meal orders to focus on sweet sales for the festivities.

“We are catering only to Diwali sweets until Friday,” he said.

Although Indian sweets are known for being fatty and extremely high in sugar content, Mr Agarwal dismissed health concerns.

“Diwali comes once a year and people should celebrate well. Even burgers are unhealthy but people eat them,” he said.

pkannan@thenational.ae