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Some Dubai residents chose not to celebrate Diwali. Here’s why

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Medical frontliners Dr Rajesh Paraswani and his wife are consciously steering clear of any Diwali celebrations this year.

It’s a Diwali like never before for the entire world and things not too different in the UAE. With governments calling for cautious celebrations, residents are preparing for muted festivities, with a few choosing not to celebrate at all.

Medical frontliners Dr Rajesh Paraswani and his wife are consciously steering clear of any Diwali celebrations this year. The doctor couple feels what they have witnessed this year has altered their perspective for a lifetime.

“Both of us are frontline workers. My wife was posted in the ICU ward and I am a radiologist. Typically, we would have grand celebrations at our hospital premises with Rangoli competitions, meet-and-greet, light decors. But none of that really happened this year. At home, we are not doing much except for the usual Laxmi (deity) puja. Our 13-year-old son understands why we are not celebrating it this year,” said Dr Rajesh who has been living in the UAE for the past nine years.

People from non-medical backgrounds do not understand the gravity of the pandemic and feel occasional gatherings can seldom do any harm, he added. “We’ve seen patients closely and some of them suffered severely due to Covid-19, especially around April. Everything still feels sombre and fresh in our heads. People can virtually greet their friends and family and we’ll do the same. But get-togethers are a complete no-no as it means undoing the work of all healthcare workers like ourselves.”

Though not medics, Sanjoy Bose and his wife have also voluntarily decided to desist from lighting up the house or indulging in any celebrations. “Usually, I host parties where I invite lots of guests. But this year the government is warning people against social gatherings. So why flout rules? Things hopefully will improve by next year, once the vaccine is out. People need to wait for some more time.

“I celebrate more than just Indian festivals as my wife is an Australian with Chinese heritage. But what’s the harm if you give up celebrations one year? Also, my mother-in-law is with us and she is quite elderly. We do not wish to jeopardise her life by inviting people over. It’s not worth the risk. It does not matter if we cannot do crackers or have those Diwali parties that had defined our celebrations in the past,” he added.

Bose also pointed out many of his associates who had contracted the virus are still on the road to recovery with many continuing to feel fatigued despite being Covid-19 free.

For the Sativada family from Hyderabad, the usual meetings with relatives and friends to exchange gifts, bursting crackers and everything associated with the festival will not happen. “Diwali has always been special, but this year things are completely different. My husband lost his first cousin due to Covid-19 who used to live in India. We are just not in a celebratory mood. My 11-year-old son has also not been pestering us for celebrations. Whether you can see someone or not, the bond of love is always there. I am hopeful we’re going to get through this and see better time on the other side,” said Shilpa.

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