The name “Diwali” literally means “a row (avali) of lamps (deepa)”, and it is essentially a festival of light, celebrating the victory over darkness, evil, and ignorance.
Diwali is celebrated in autumn and lasts five days; the festivities start two days before the new moon that marks the beginning of the Hindu month Kartik. This day usually falls between mid-October and mid-November. This festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians.
The main attribute of Diwali is the great number of diyas – ritual lights of sacred meaning, lit inside and outside the households. The first day of celebration is dedicated to preparations, like cleaning the house and shopping. The second day symbolizes deliverance from hell and suffering, on this day people buy or cook festive food. The third day, marking the climax of the festival coincides with the new moon. On this day celebrants put on their best clothes, perform rituals in worship of goddess Lakshmi, share family dinners, and light fireworks. The last two days honor the family bonds – between husbands and wives on the fourth day and between brothers and sisters on the fifth.
Diwali traditions may differ in some communities, but nevertheless, it is celebrated in every city of UAE with a significant Hindu diaspora. Every year, Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, and other major cities in the United Arab Emirates celebrate Diwali with lights, fireworks, candles and joy.
Although it’s not an official holiday in the Emirates, celebration of Diwali is very popular among residents. Diwali celebrations usually last for 7 – 10 days, and many destinations, such as the Al Seef complex by Meraas, The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah, The Beach on JBR, are organizing grand light shows with fireworks. Throughout the cities, hundreds of balconies on buildings and towers shine throughout the night with millions of colorful lights, bringing joy and happiness. Some areas in Dubai, like Bur Dubai and Deira, shine bright like no other time of the year, and many residents travel in these areas on Diwali to join celebrations.