x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Fun and formality as Indians celebrate

Across the UAE, Indians turned out in their thousands to celebrate 63rd anniversary of their homeland's independence.

ABU DHABI // Indians turned out in their thousands at parties, musical events and private celebrations in the Emirates yesterday to mark the 63rd anniversary of their homeland's independence. At the Indian High School, Dubai, more than 2,000 people saw their national flag unfurled at an event led by Venu Rajamony, the consul general in Dubai. He urged Indians to work towards their country's progress and prosperity. He added that the UAE had always welcomed Indians with open arms and those who lived here must keep that in mind by following the country's rules, customs and traditions. Flags were also raised in Abu Dhabi. At the Indian Embassy, Talmiz Ahmad, the ambassador, read extracts from an address to the nation by Pratibha Patil, the Indian president.

An hour later another flag was raised at the Indian Social Centre, the site of a celebration last night that began with a presentation on the nation's constitution and later featured children performing national songs, dances and sketches. Indrani Roy, the president of the Indian Ladies Association, said the performances at the social centre were brought together by a number of local organisations, including the Malayali Samajiya, the Islamic Centre, the Indian Social Centre and the Kerala Social Centre.

K Muralidharan, an Indian shopkeeper in Abu Dhabi, planned to close his shop early to take in the celebrations. "I also look forward to getting together with my friends who are also planning on attending," he said. Shanoob Nalakath, who works at an Adnoc station in the capital, moved from Kerala four months ago. He has already made friends and was planning to celebrate with them last night. "Our celebration will not be big, only some friends will get together at my home, maybe 12 people, and we will eat and enjoy the company," said Mr Nalakath.

"If we were in India, we would watch the army parade on TV and all the flags going up." Mr Nalakath said he would make a payasam dessert - a traditional South Asian sweet dish made by boiling rice with milk and sugar, and then flavouring the concoction with cardamoms, raisins, saffron, pistachios or almonds. "Independence Day is a sweet memory for us, so we will make sweets to celebrate," he said.

But for Lambath Abdul Kader, a storekeeper living in Abu Dhabi, yesterday was mostly business as usual. "At home it is a big celebration, a holiday for all. Here, if I want I can close shop and go home and make a big meal, but why?" he said. "Better to stay open and make business and tell friends to stop by at the shop and visit; I make them tea." * The National, with additional reporting by Hala Khalaf