x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Enjoy the festival

For expatriates in the UAE, Diwali is an occasion to celebrate Indian identity.

It’s that time of year when lights will illuminate homes and hearts in every corner of India. One of the country’s most anticipated festivals, Diwali, the festival of lights, symbolises the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness, and the regeneration of life.

Apart from lighting lamps, the occasion is typically celebrated by bursting firecrackers and by the distribution of sweets among family and friends. With get-togethers and plenty of delicacies to munch, Diwali seems to be one of the most special times of the year.

Like many other festivals, however, Diwali is also about business and shopping. A study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India gives an idea about the extent of that business – 20 billion rupees (Dh1.2bn), it says, will be spent by corporate India on Diwali gifts this year.

If the frenzy to shop and sell is less intense in the UAE, the rush to buy gold – commonly perceived by Indians to ward off darkness from life – is as big as ever, as The National reported yesterday.

For expatriates, however, Diwali has another dimension. It’s an occasion to celebrate Indian identity. For many in this country, the festival this year brings an additional reason to be cheerful as it happens to coincide with the public holiday for Islamic New Year.