x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Diwali with canned fireworks and cancan parents

The Indian festival is a great opportunity to eat all the sweets you like without feeling guilty.

It's been a long week, but by the time this goes to press, Diwali will have come and gone. This Indian festival of lights is something I tend to look forward to, mostly because it's a day when I can eat all the sweets I like without feeling guilty.

Celebrating it in Dubai doesn't feel quite the same as it would if I were visiting my family in India, although this year we were invited to a Diwali children's musical festival in the city, which brought together families from across the subcontinent.

I didn't know everyone very well, but it's lovely to find what a good icebreaker the general feeling of festivity can be. With prompting from the organisers - friends of ours - I agreed to be a co-hostess. I simply had to introduce everyone and make general conversation between each little performance; there was everything from breakdancing to Bollywood song recitals to renditions of Abba hits performed on the violin.

Among all the traditionally dressed people there, I looked slightly out of place in my more casual attire. But there wasn't much time to feel self-conscious because I managed to have an accident as soon as I arrived.

Rangolis are traditional Indian designs made on the floor out of coloured powder, petals and even rice or something pretty from the kitchen cupboard. Being me, I of course managed somehow to step on a rangoli and kick up a multicoloured storm of powder, resulting in my sporting something of a psychedelic look. After rubbing some of the red powder from my fingers on to my nose, I also spent the rest of the evening looking like Krusty the Clown. People obviously thought it would be funny not to tell me.

The show started with a teenage boy band jamming away on electric guitars and drums. The adults looked, frankly, stunned. I don't think they had expected that something good could have come out of "the noise from their rooms", otherwise known as practising. They loved it, and it was heartwarming to see some bejewelled, sari-clad mothers tentatively ask if they could try a hand at the drum kit after the performance.

A breakdancer exploded on to the stage soon after, and spent most of his time there upside down, demonstrating incredible agility.

If this had been Diwali in India, we would have been setting off firecracker after firecracker, with a cheerful disregard to health and safety. Firecrackers are illegal in Dubai, but we did still make an effort to set the mood during the interlude.

A keyboard was plugged in and an assortment of pre-recorded sounds of fireworks exploding and rockets blasting off into space was played over and over again.

We were just reaching the peak of a frantic firework crescendo when someone stormed in and fiddled around with the keyboard until it was playing Fur Elise, pianissimo. The final performance of the evening was a wonderful, graceful performance of a classical Indian dance. It was truly fantastic - you rarely see that sort of spectacle in Dubai.

Then came the big finale - the perfect example of why I love Diwali and its ability to drive the sanest person ecstatically crazy. The dance floor opened up and children were left to look on goggle-eyed while their parents performed a sort of cancan dance to Waka Waka. Priceless.

The writer is a 15-year-old student in Dubai.