Thanks to my recent expatriation to the United Arab Emirates, in Dubai I had the chance, for the first time in my life, to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. Diwali is also called Deepavali; it is a very important religious festival for Hindus. I was very happy to be able to attend this festival as I am very passionate about Indian culture. This festival lasts 5 days, the third day being the one where the festivities are at their peak.
In this article, I would like to share with you my experience and also tell you the places not to miss in Dubai to celebrate Diwali / Deepavali.
What is Diwali?
Several legends justify the origin of this celebration, depending on the different regions in India. For some, this celebration marks the return of the god Rama in his kingdom and thus in a symbolic way the victory of the light on the darkness and the good on the evil.
For others, it pays tribute to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Thus the lamps guide the goddess to find her way to the houses.
Where is Diwali celebrated?
This religious festival is celebrated in India, but also in cities and countries where the Indian community is important such as Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Mauritius, or here in Dubai. It takes place either in October or in November, the date depending on the Vikram calendar (a Hindu calendar), this festival marks the last day of the Vikram year.
How is Diwali celebrated?
Beautiful representations are drawn on the ground; in the courtyard of the houses, they are called rangolis, the objective is to protect the family. You can see them in the temples too. Garlands decorate the balconies, and candles are placed everywhere in the city. How beautiful it is!
The most impressive thing is the fireworks and firecrackers in every corner. Hindus also give gifts to each other during this festival.
Where to celebrate Diwali in Dubai?
Go to the Burjuman district to start your night stroll. As you can see in these pictures, most of the balconies of the apartments are decorated with light garlands. A nice show when all these streets are illuminated.
Then we went to Bur Dubai. Be careful where you walk, firecrackers and fireworks are thrown everywhere. Usually forbidden, the police confiscated the firecrackers they found.
A very festive atmosphere! We were invited to a store of Indian clothes where a small ceremony was held. Songs, candles, Indian cakes, and smiles were there. They warmly welcomed us in the store to make us attend and participate in this ceremony.
We ended our walk by the Shiva Temple which is located in the middle of souks in a narrow lane. Many Hindus go there to make offerings. There were many people. It was a small temple. If you have some time left you can go there but if not the rest of the walk will already give you a nice overview of the festival of lights.
If you are planning to travel to a country with a large Hindu community in late October or early November, find out when this festival is, it is definitely an experience to be had. I’m sure it will make your trip even more beautiful!