Families in Dubai are celebrating the festival of colours Holi, with water fights and colour battles but mostly as house parties celebrated within closed groups.

Holi in 2024 coincides with the sacred month of Ramadan, with the Hindu celebration of colours being observed in a subdued manner as community members consciously embrace the essence of the holy month, a time dedicated to prayer and spiritual reflection.

The festival, which being observed on March 25 across various regions of India and Nepal, symbolises the onset of spring. For Hindus, Holi represents the victory of good over evil.

Taking place in March during the full moon night called Phalgun Purnima in the Hindu calendar, like Eid Al Fitr, its date varies annually.

Being inclusive this Holi

Khaleej Times reached out to a few Indian residents to understand how they are celebrating the day with lively festivities like their kin back home except enjoying a national holiday.

A resident of Greens, Archana Vineet said, “Every year Emaar organises the annual Holi party with the community members here, which is a massive event with live music, games, food stalls, and revellers throwing powdered dyes and spraying coloured water at each other. This year as Holi coincides with Ramadan which is a time of prayer the event was differently organised by individuals and families instead.”

So, Archana along with 16 other families in her apartment decided to enjoy the day at their resident’s lawn areas.

She added, “We celebrated it on Sunday instead of Monday, as many people are working today. We went down with our colours and also did a potluck. We played Holi in the common ground and booked the community hall for lunch. It was a fun-filled day.”

Food and beverages

Similarly, Jumeirah Park resident Bhavna Tandon Sharma said she misses home every year during this festival. But she tries to replicate the familiar ambiance in a modest manner.

“I had prepared traditional desserts like 'gujiya' and the staple Holi beverage 'thandai' at home. I went and bought Holi colours from the supermarket. This morning before my daughter woke up my husband and I filled a few balloons with coloured water and when she woke up we showered her with those balloons.”

Bhavna added, “Afterwards, the three of us engaged in a playful water battle, soaking each other with the hose pipe. The only dry soul around was Joyce, our pet, and we put a little colour on her as well. It's always enjoyable to recreate these festivals in your own unique manner, especially when living far from home. It brings back memories of home and childhood.”

Organic colours

Shikha Nagori created organic colours using cornflour and food colouring. This resident of Springs who celebrated the festival along with all her household helpers and family, emphasised that their first act of the day is to offer prayers to the divine.

“Then my children did a Zoom call with their grandparents and took their blessings on the auspicious day. Earlier, we used to have German neighbours who would join us every year during the Holi celebrations. They’ve moved out and we miss not having them around. I have also prepared some typical Holi delicacies at home,” said the UAE resident who has been here for a decade.

Businesses record spike

Meanwhile, if anyone happens to be airborne during the Holi festival, Emirates has introduced special Holi celebratory offerings on flights to certain destinations in India. Passengers can indulge in beverages like Thandai and delectable Holi treats while onboard.

Additionally, food and beverage retailers in Dubai highlighted that this year they’ve noticed a notable increase in the popularity of organic hues and savoury snacks.

Preet Vasudev, the co-founder of the luxury dessert brand Varak, stated, “This year, we observed a significant demand for organic colours and savoury treats, with a growing awareness regarding sugar consumption. Our boondi barks, especially when paired with thandai cookies, emerged as a major success."

Others stressed that Holi coinciding with Ramadan meant more sales for restaurants.

Eti Bhasin, owner of Dhaba Lane said, “The Holi weekend has been doing wonders as it also coincides with the onset of the third week of Ramadan, whereby families get along together. We have witnessed a surge of at least 25 per cent in total diners this week compared to the previous two weeks. Our festive gujiyas have picked up good sales, especially in the Karama outlet.”

'Lovely coincidence'

Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Ambassador to the UAE earlier reflected on the diversity of religions, faiths, and nationalities celebrating different festivals in the UAE.

He said, “This month is a blessed month as it’s the holy month of Ramadan and at the same time this month we had Maha Shivratri (Indian festival), Nowruz (Persian New Year). It’s Holi now (Indian festival of colours) and before the month ends, we'll have Good Friday (an important day in the Christian religion). What a lovely coincidence.”

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