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The Indian Festival of Lights known as Diwali takes place on Wednesday this week (26 October), and here we’ve listed our top five ways to celebrate it. But first, check out our brief introduction to the festival…
Diwali: A Beginner’s Guide
During Diwali people light diyas (small oil lamps) to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth and prosperity) into their homes. This is India’s biggest festival of the year marking the beginning of the Hindu New Year. It also celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and the many stories connected to Diwali pass on this same message.
The first day of the festival begins with Dhan Trayodashi or Dhanteras (Dhan means wealth, teras means thirteenth as the day falls on the thirteenth lunar day in the Hindu month) – gold or silver ornaments are used on this day for good luck. The second day is Narak Chaturdashi, which is more popularly known as Small Diwali. The third day, which is also called Big Diwali, is the main day of celebrations. On this day people perform Lakshmi Pujan (worshiping of the Goddess Lakshmi) and offer prayers to her to be blessed with some of her wealth and prosperity. The fourth day of Diwali is devoted to Govardhan Pooja (worship of Lord Govardhan Parvat). It ends with Bhai Dooj which is a day to honour the relationships between brothers and sisters.
During Diwali Hindus place the diyas inside and outside their homes letting them burn all night. Another way people decorate their homes is with rangoli – designs made from coloured flour or sand spread on the floor outside in elaborate patterns. They also spruce up their houses so that Goddess Lakshmi wants to enter. Hindus believe that the Goddess brings wealth when she visits. New household items like gold or silver ornaments or even iPads and designer handbags are bought for the occasion. Gifts including sweets and candles are also exchanged between family and friends. As Diwali celebrates the Hindu New Year, it’s a must to buy new clothes too.
Fireworks also light up the sky to complete the celebrations. It’s believed that fireworks sound the joy of the people living on earth, making the Gods aware of their happiness.
Here’s are how to celebrate Diwali in Dubai…
Diwali Shopping at Damas
Address: Gold and Diamond Park 1, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 347 9663
What to expect: Damas Jewellers has unveiled several new collections from well-known designers, including one-off pieces especially created for Diwali. The new collection includes a wide range of jewellery embellished with emeralds, rubies, diamonds and pearls set in 18 carat and 22 carat yellow and white gold. Damas jewellery is made to meet everyone’s budget and taste. The jewellers have also designed bangles for the Legacy Collection and an array of Mystique nose pins set in 22 carat gold for the first time. Oh and did we mention they have new watches? As Diwali is also the festival of prosperity, Damas is offering bumper raffle draws to win 1kg of gold every week for three weeks along with free gifts on selected purchases, including 22 carat gold coins, pearl jewellery sets, a 24 carat gold foil frame and an exclusive jewellery case. We say, head to your nearest Damas now before the fantastic Diwali collection disappears!
Venue: Wonderland Park
Address: Oud Metha, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 298 1262
What to expect: Join the Diwali Dhamaka Concert Live on 27 October to celebrate the Indian extravaganza. On stage will be popular Bollywood singers including Mika Singh, Mamta Sharma, Shakeel Siddiqui and Faiza Mujahid.
Diwali at Arabian Courtyard
Address: Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 351 9111
What to expect: The Arabian Courtyard’s award-winning Indian restaurant Mumtaz Mahal has created a special set menu for this Diwali which is available for lunch (12pm to 3pm) and dinner (7.30pm to 2am) from 26 to 29 October. Chef Glen has specially made some mouthwatering Indian delicacies for restaurant guests to enjoy. There will also be live sitar performers to spice up the atmosphere.
Feeling lucky? Well diners will also get a chance to win prizes including gold necklace worth up to Dhs5000 and two tickets for a trip on Sea Wing’s Dubai worth Dhs1200 per person. Simply dine with family and friends and spend a minimum of Dhs500 on food and beverage to enter the lucky draw. Prizes are drawn on 1November.
Diwali at Atlantis The Palm
Address: The Palm, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 426 0000
What to expect: This Diwali Atlantis has dropped its prices starting at Dhs2590 per room per night. Guests can also treat themselves to a variety of events and excite their taste buds with delicious Indian treats during the festival at Kaleidoscope. Beautifully decorated with Rangoli, diyas and Indian artifacts, Kaleidoscope will be offering three memorable Diwali themed dinners priced at Dhs190 per person during 25 to 27 October. The meals will include food and soft drinks and children aged between 3 and 12 dine at a 50 per cent discount.
To start, diners will be offered Rooafza, a light rose flavoured drink or Thandaei, refreshing almond milk flavoured with cardamom. Mouthwatering Indian food can be tasted by all diners, including traditional Biryani and freshly made Rumali roti. The live Chaat Station will serve panipuri, sevpuri, papdichaat and bhelpuri. Freshly prepared Jalebi, Malpuas and traditional Diwali sweets can be relished by those with a sweet tooth.
A Maharaja at the entrance will welcome guests of all ages and waiters wearing traditional attire will serve throughout the evening. Traditional Rajasthani Dancers decked in colourful costumes will perform at Poseidon’s Court. Diners have the option of dining indoors or on the covered outdoor terrace with stunning views of the Royal Pool and The Palm. Meanwhile, the little ones can enjoy Henna painting, traditional live metal bangle making, and a handicraft boutique is near for shopping pleasure.
Diwali at Taj Palace Hotel
Address: Deira, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04 211 3020
What to expect: The Taj Palace Hotel Dubai’s Indian restaurant Handi will be showcasing their very best dishes from 23 to 26 October in celebration of Diwali. The restaurant will be offering a choice of two menus, a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian option with dishes that include the chef’s special, Murg Begum Bahar, a boneless chicken in creamy gravy with fresh fenugreek leaves and Paneer Ka Soola cottage cheese with tomato and onion marinated with a special Rajistani masala. Both menus will be available throughout Diwali for both lunch and dinner at Dhs125 for the vegetarian menu and Dhs155 for the non-vegetarian menu.