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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Indians mark Diwali with food, lights and a festive spirit 

The most important day of the annual Hindu Festival of Light fell on a Thursday this year, meaning most people were able to celebrate and then enjoy the following day off

With a set of new clothes, candles, colourful decorations, delicious food and lots of love, the Indian community in the UAE marked Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light, on Thursday.

Diwali, or Deepavali, is a celebration that signifies the power of light over darkness and good over evil by lighting up lamps and candles in an effort to make the world a better place and recognise the simple joys of life.

The festival runs for five days, with the main celebrations happening on the third day (the darkest day of the month). It is observed on the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar.

“It’s a five-day occasion to celebrate the blessings of wealth, prosperity, happiness, positivity and knowledge, and the most significant day of the Diwali festival is the third day, the darkest one, which falls on Thursday this year,” said Sandeep Bhargava, a 37-year-old Indian father of two.

“We clean, renovate and decorate our house, wear our best outfits, prepare food and sweets and light up the darkness in the house and in the heart.”

The occasion is marked by family and friends getting together to celebrate friendship, goodwill and love while exchanging greetings, gifts and sweets under the candlelight.

“We add colours to the house to have a colourful future and invite friends to pray with us and celebrate this special occasion, and we pray for the lord of death to bless us with life,” said Mr Bhargava.

Read more: Diwali celebrations around the world - in pictures

“Oil lamps should light up the front door, which is decorated with flowers and colours to get the blessings of the Gods, and the lights of the house should be turned on all through the night.”

The Indian life coach will be celebrating the festival with his wife, two daughters and friends.

“We get together, pray, eat and light some small firecrackers in the backyard,” he said.

“Neighbours of different nationalities come and celebrate with us when they see the lights and the festive atmosphere and we welcome them all.”

Mr Bhargava has been living in the UAE for 10 years and said that the festive vibes back home are different.

“All the houses used to be lit up back home during this time of the year, fireworks cover the sky, everyone dressed up and celebrations are everywhere. It's different but we still enjoy it here together,” he said.

His wife, Monisha Bhargava, said that women buy gold and wear their best outfits on the main night of Diwali.

“It’s a family orientated festival, we dress up, wear our best outfits and jewellery, receive expensive gifts from family members and give gifts in return,” said Ms Bhargava.

“We clean, paint and redecorate the house to purify it and light it up as much as we can, and it takes a few days to arrange everything.

“Life is very busy but this occasion reminds us to slow down and enjoy life, it keeps us connected to our traditions, we all enjoy the celebration and prepare home-made savoury snacks and sweets with love to offer to our Gods.”