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10 December 2023

Indians reap in the fun with three festivals this weekend

An Indian woman prepares a kite at a workshop in Hyderabad, on January 5, 2011. India celebrates Makar Sankranti on January 14. Kite flying is the major activity on the day of Makar Sankranti festival celebrating the beginning of the harvest season. (AFP)

By Bindu Suresh Rai and Joseph George

Indians around the world have a spring in their step today as the turn of the season is ringing in three big festivals over the weekend.

The Punjabis have kicked off the festivities today with Lohri, while those from Tamil Nadu will celebrate Pongal on Friday.

Tomorrow also marks the festival of Makar Sankranti that is celebrated across various states in India, each of which mark the end of the winter solstice and the new season of harvest.

Lighting up for Lohri

Indian expats in the UAE are not immune to the festivities, with several making impromptu plans to head to Zabeel Park this evening to light bonfires and partake in singing and making merry.

“We understand that lighting a bonfire, as per the Lohri tradition is a safety hazard, so we are substituting at the barbeque pit and will dance around the burning coals,” said Dubai resident Jasmeet Kaur. “We will follow tradition as much as we can so I even plan to get revadi (balls comprising sesame seems, sugar and glucose), which we can throw into the fire and munch on the Indian sweet, gajjak.”

Rather than being a religious festival, Lohri marks the end of winter and also celebrates the sowing of crop.

Mainly celebrated in Punjab, tradition dictates building a bonfire with friends, neighbours and families dancing around it, with the fire symbolising the spark of life and goodwill.

During the festivities it is tradition to throw corn, sesame seeds, peanuts and jaggery into the fire.

Pongal delights

In Tamil Nadu, Pongal also considered the new year is celebrated for four days starting today.

Members of various communities in Dubai and other emirates have organised special programmes to mark the occasion.

Veerendra Babu from Davangere and a member of “Kannada Koota” says a special traditional programme to mark the festivity is being organised at the Safa Park today.

“We are expecting more than 200 families from Dubai alone to assemble for the programme. A special troop of artistes are being specially flown down to add colour to the celebrations,”said Babu.

Sreenivasan Murugan from Chennai said he and his friends are gathering at one of the houses to celebrate Pongal.
“The festival promotes the values of sharing. However this year though, the increasing cost of food products, especially vegetables, have become a burden. Last year Onion was selling at Dh2 per kilogramme, while today it is being sold at Dh4. In India too the situation is the same. While onion was selling at Rs20-25 per kg, today it is prices at more than Rs50,” he said.

Fly high with Sankranti

Each Indian state brings its own tradition to the festivities with Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal taking to the skies as Sankranti marks the commencement of the harvest festival.

While traditions differ according to different communities, kite flying is considered the most popular way to celebrate Sankranti, with Dubai not slacking on its own festivities this year.

If you too want to join in the fun, head to Creek Park Dubai on Friday, between 10am and 5pm as families gather in the harvest celebration and partake in the kite flying festival.

Tickets start at Dh25 for individuals and Dh50 for the whole family. And don’t forget to pack your kites for the celebration.