For the next week things are going to get lit in Dubai as the city celebrates the Indian Festival of Lights known as Diwali. If you’ve noticed little clay lamps decorating your neighbour’s doorsteps and entire balconies lit up like a Christmas tree, welcome to Diwali in Dubai! And if you are the neighbour decking up their home with lights, Happy Diwali! The five-day festival, also known as Deepavali, symbolises the triumph of the light of good over the darkness of evil. Clay lamps (diyas) and lights illuminate the city all week and fireworks ligh up the night sky and a host of fun events and elaborate feasts kick off across Dubai that people of all faiths and nationalities can join in.
We’ve broken down the city-wide celebrations so having fun is easy:
Dubai’s love for spectacular firework displays haven’t been extinguished even after multiple Guinness World Records. The pyrotechnics continue throughout the Diwali week (until October 28) and here’s where you can entertain yourself with some dazzling displays.
1. Global Village
Everyone’s favourite multi-cultural festival park opens doors on October 25 and the Indian Pavilion is set to give visitors a taste of traditional celebrations all week long. There’ll be a spectacular fireworks display on October 28 to cap off celebrations, so keep your eyes peeled to skies while you check out nightly Bollywood performances and dig into scrummy street food.
Visit www.globalvillage.ae for details; entry tickets cost AED 18 per person.
Most malls and storefronts have turned up all their lights in honour of Diwali but to fully be immersed in the traditional glow of the festival, you’ve got to visit this neighbhourhood in Dubai that has some of the highest concentrations of Indian expats. The Mankhool area in Bur Dubai has a cluster of apartment complexes that turn into blindingly beautiful displays of fairy lights strung across facades and giant diya-shaped light fixtures twinkle at you. For most Dubai residents, driving through these streets to soak up the festive vibes is a mandatory Diwali activity.
The easiest way to locate this section of Bur Dubai is to type in Citymax Hotels into Google Maps and then follow the trail of illuminated buildings when you get there. Make sure you hit every street from 9A to 19B, using Doubletree by Hilton and Golden Sands apartments as markers to weave in and out of the labyrinth of roads.
BurJuman mall is hosting a Diwali Bazaar pop-up market on level 3 until October 30. You can shop for last-minute gifts that range from clothing for men and women, accessories, home decor, kids’ toys and delicious Diwali snacks and sweets.
Visit www.burjuman.com for more info.
Souk Al Marfa in Deira is hosting their third Diwali Dhamaka Festival and it’s quite the bash they’ve got planned. Beloved food truck collective Truckers UAE will park some of the best homegrown brands at the venue so you can gorge on delicious food. Festive shopping can be checked off your list at over 50 stalls selling jewellery, ethnic clothing, handicrafts, home accessories and more. Live bhangra dance performances, folk music shows and cultural events will keep you entertained as well.
Timings: From 4pm-12am
Visit www.soukalmarfa.ae for details
Sweets and snacks
Indians have loved their jalebis long before Jason Derulo made it an international hit. Mithai, the name for traditional Indian sweets, are rich bite-sized delicacies made from milk, sugar, nuts, ghee and flour wrapped up in ornate boxes. Here’s where you can buy authentic mithai in Dubai.
1. Joshi Confectionary and Sweet
This hole-in-the-wall sweet shop in Meena Bazar is the oldest and first Indian cafe/restaurant to have opened in the city, dating back to 1968. That’s three whole years before the creation of the United Arab Emirates, making it older than the country its in! During Diwali, the teensy little shop is piled high with trays of sugary sweets (mithai) and savour snacks that are staples during the festival such as mohanthal, kaju katli and jalebis.
📍Location: 74th St, Meena Bazar, Al Fahidi
As much as sweets are a part of Diwali celebrations so are savoury snacks called namkeen that add some crunch and spice to the menu . With a history of 117 years, this popular Indian restaurant and store that started in Rajasthan’s city of Bikaner in 1905, is a go-to for Diwali snacks and edible gifts. They’ve got around 10 branches spread out through the city, and have even found themselves a coveted spot in The Dubai Mall. Hit them up for sweets such as moongdal barfi and mootichoor ladoo and savoury snacks such as shakkar para, chiwda and mathri. We’d suggest dining in and relishing freshly-made piping hot desserts such as gulab jamuns and carrot halwa.
📍Various locations; visit www.bikanervala.ae
This restaurant and sweet shop chain from India is another outlet that’s synonymous with Indian sweets in Dubai. Definitely give their dry fruit sweets a try if you desire a break from the milk-and-ghee variants of mithai. Khajoor till ladoos, rose soan papdi, besan ladoo and dry fruit barfis are items your tastebuds will thank you for. They also box up a mix of traditional sweets in stunning wooden and metal boxes that you’ll hold on to long after the sweets have been eaten.
📍Various locations; visit www.puranmal.ae
4. Sri Krishna Sweets
A household name in South India, this is your one-stop shop for sweet treats from the southern half of the country. Their flagship outlet in Karama serves signature sweets such as buttery mysore pak, thiratipal, kerala boondi ladoos, Karnataka’s famous Dharwad pedha and savoury snacks such as murruku, banana chips and spicy madras mixture.
📍Various locations; visit www.srikrishnasweets.ae