x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Diwali in detail and what's happening in the UAE

In India, there are almost as many religious and spiritual celebrations as there are dieties and the most widely celebrated is Diwali, the festival of lights.

To celebrate Diwali, a family sets out diyas and rangoli in front of their apartment. Lee Hoagland / The National
To celebrate Diwali, a family sets out diyas and rangoli in front of their apartment. Lee Hoagland / The National

Spanning five days, the Hindu festival of Diwali is not only a simple, joyful celebration of the autumn harvest, but each of its days has its own tale to tell, all rooted in Hindu mythology.

According to the Ramayana (a Sanskrit epic important to the Hindi canon), it was during this time that the long-exiled Lord Rama returned home to Ayodhya, along with Sita and Lakshman, after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka. The people of Ayodhya are believed to have lit thousands of earthen lamps to illuminate the city and to guide their beloved Lord home. Hindus today light diyas (oil lamps) or fairy lights to mark the day.

What to expect

Much like Eid is family time for Muslims and as Christmas is for Christians, Diwali celebrations play a pivotal role for Hindu families, who dress up in fine clothes and visit loved ones. What lends Diwali a unique twist is the lights and fireworks used throughout the celebrations.

By illuminating their houses with lights and decorating their doorsteps with rangoli (patterns made with coloured sand), Hindus welcome Lakshmi - and with her, wealth and prosperity - into their homes.

With the fireworks they illuminate the sky and let the gods know that the people living on Earth are happy and satisfied.

All that glitters

Diwali is the time to buy gold and there are fabulous offers at vendors across the country.

- Kanwar Jewellery is giving out two-gram gold coins on a minimum purchase of diamond jewellery worth Dh1,000; a free 10-gram silver coin with gold jewellery worth Dh2,500; and a free 18-carat gold Apella watch with diamond jewellery worth Dh10,000. Call 02 556 2067 for further details.

- Spend Dh501 at Liali Jewellery in Dubai, Al Ain or Abu Dhabi and receive free jewellery instantly, including pearl bracelets, multi-strand pearl necklaces and 18-carat pendants in diamonds and semi-precious stones. Plus you will get a free Pierre Balmain Swiss watch when you purchase a set of natural-coloured stone jewellery from the Atyaaf collection. Call 02 491 3203 for details.

- Joy Alukkas offers buyers a diamond necklace with every purchase of Dh3,000 or more. Buy the special diamond Diwali set priced at Dh13,000 to get a Canon digital camera as well. Call 02 633 1377 for more information.

Feast like a king

Food is a major part of Indian celebrations. Dine in style this Diwali at the following venues.

- Enjoy a sumptuous selection of Diwali-inspired dishes and a tempting array of Indian sweets while listening to live traditional Indian music at Amala, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray until Wednesday. Call 04 453 0444.

- Chef Haseeb at Chutney's, Mövenpick Bur Dubai, has prepared a special Diwali Thali menu for Tuesday that covers the eclectic vegetarian and non-vegetarian mix of traditional and innovative delicacies from the northwest frontier of India. Call 04 310 4340 for more information.

- Float away on the aroma of freshly cooked dishes from the tandoor at Rangoli, a lifestyle restaurant serving North and South Indian cuisine at the Yas Island Rotana. Call 02 656 4000 for details.

It's party time

Diwali Rocks Dubai at The Aviation Club on Friday is a five-hour musical extravaganza bringing together some of the best Bollywood and Asian artists from across the globe - Mika Singh, Imran Khan, RDB, Hard Kaur and Ash King. It's a chance to experience a proper Diwali party.

- Diwali will be celebrated from Tuesday until Saturday.