It always comes as a surprise to visitors to Dubai that Indians actually make up the majority of the emirate’s expats. As such, celebrations like Diwali are celebrated with gusto. Diwali (or Deepavali) is the ‘Festival of Lights’, an ancient Hindu celebration that I’ve been told is “as big as Christmas.”
I’m down with that. Families welcome in another year of good fortune by decorating their front doors with lights, enjoying family meals and setting off fireworks like they’re going out of fashion.
Like the Kardashians I don’t like missing out on a party, so to get involved in this year’s festivities I signed up for an #UnseenTrails tour arranged by the lovely ladies from Frying Pan Adventures (famous for their foodie tours around DXB), and Gulf Photo Plus, an awesome local photography collective. Food + photos + a chance to stick my nose in local community culture = major win on every front.
First stop: Deira, where a tour of the souq area and surrounds lead to a fantastic night-time abra (traditional boat) ride across Dubai Creek to the colourful chaos of Bur Dubai. The narrow alleyways were teeming with people: sellers distributing offerings to patrons of the nearby Hindu Temple – the only one in the UAE; children running around with sparklers in their hands and taking full advantage of the fact their parents had difficulty controlling them in the crowds; food stalls dishing out chaat (the collective term for seriously delicious street food. So what if I’m still dreaming about it?).
The night ended as all good nights should, with groups setting off fireworks across the neighbourhood and hurried police trying to control them. Love this city.