Diwali lights up life for Hindus in UAE

DUBAI // Glowing lights and bright colours gave neighbourhoods a magical look yesterday as Indian families celebrated Diwali.

Keeping with the spirit of the festival, which symbolises the journey from darkness to light and celebrates the triumph of good over evil, residents in the predominantly Indian neighbourhoods of Karama and Bur Dubai put up colourful lights to illuminate their balconies. Many also decorated their homes with abstract designs in chalk powder known as Rangolis, and earthen lamps of various shapes and sizes to welcome Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth.

Meena Bazaar, in the heart of Bur Dubai, was bustling with last-minute shoppers buying decorations, clothes, bangles and prayer items for their homes. People also queued outside restaurants and sweet shops to order gift boxes for friends and family.

Many expatriates visited the country’s only Hindu temple, in Meena Bazaar, to offer prayers and seek blessings for their loved ones.

Some, such as Nishita Kushalrani, prayed at home instead.

“The puja [prayers] is to ask the goddess to enter our home and request her to give our family prosperity for the coming year,” said Ms Kushalrani, who moved to Dubai a month ago.

“If a guest comes to your house you will respect him or her. So in the same way, what you place in offerings for the puja is out of respect, but in a grander way because she is a goddess.”

It is customary to keep flowers such as the lotus and fresh fruits in the prayer room. Devotees also light lamps and incense sticks.