UAE - Though official celebrations are going virtual, Pakistani expats in the UAE are getting ready to mark their country's Independence Day with zeal and zest today.

The most enthusiastic are children who are busy collecting stickers, badges and also buying plants. Celebrating it differently in this unprecedented year, residents are pledging to make the world a greener place.

"We will be hoisting flags, but this year the initiative from the embassy has also been to encourage people to plant saplings. So, my children have been buying small pots that I hope one day will brighten up our patios and balconies. This is just symbolic, the larger message is to make our planet a healthier place and this is particularly significant in the light of the pandemic," said Uzma Tabassum, a teacher.

The family that hails from Gujranwala, Pakistan is making an effort to ensure that their twin children grow up knowing the importance of Independence Day.

"Every year we go to the embassy here and my children participate in cultural programmes. We want to inculcate in our children certain values that we learnt while growing up. They must know where they belong, the family's origin and where their parents come from." She said they will make video call to relatives back home in the evening to see the fireworks online.

Neelam Nazir's family that consists of her husband and four children are also gearing up for the big day. The children have decided to dress up in green and white outfits, inspired by the Pakistan National flag.

"I am from Lahore and we used to do the same back home. As children, we dressed up in the national colours to embrace the spirit of the occasion. My children also do the same here. We usually go to the Embassy in Abu Dhabi but this year we aren't sure about that. Maintaining tradition, we will sing "milli naghma" (Pakistani songs) at home and definitely prepare our signature desert - halwa."

Dubai resident Chaudhary Ashfaq and his wife Aisha said this year is special for them as their five-month-old son Yunus Ayan will be celebrating his first Independence Day.

Ashfaq and his German wife Aisha alias Julia will also don the traditional Pakistani attire as they step out for their son's nascent celebration at the Consulate in Dubai. They said even the infant's churidaar-pajama is ready for the occasion.

"We are quite excited and my son's outfit is also ready. But a part of us is apprehensive of taking him out due to Covid-19. But this day has always been very close to my heart and my wife has also embraced my culture willingly. You realise the importance of these days more when you live away from your own country. I am proud of my country and its solid relations with the UAE."

He said he would make a Zoom call to see how his relatives have decorated their homes.


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