Dubai, Jan 20, 2021: Indian missions and community groups in the UAE are gearing up for the 72nd Republic Day. The celebrations, though, will be low-key due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Republic Day marks the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect — on January 26, 1950 — replacing the Government of India Act as the governing document of India. It marks the occasion of the nation turning into a newly-formed republic after the British colonial rule ended on August 15, 1947.
The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the Indian Consulate in Dubai and Indian community associations in other emirates have decided to hold the annual flag-hoisting ceremonies to commemorate the day without much fanfare this time, in keeping with the COVID-19 safety protocol. In view of the social distancing norms in place, in-person celebrations for Republic Day at the Embassy premises will be restricted only to Embassy personnel, the mission announced on Monday.
“However, the Indian community is invited to participate in the celebrations virtually as the programme will be live-streamed on our social media handles,” it stated.
After the flag-hoisting ceremony at 9am in Abu Dhabi, Ambassador Pavan Kapoor will read out the address to the nation by the President of India and deliver his own remarks, which will be followed by a short cultural programme. A similar pattern of celebration will be followed at the Indian Consulate in Dubai, which will also live-stream the event. Consul General Dr Aman Puri will hoist the flag, read out the President’s address and deliver his remarks. Dr Puri will also attend the Republic Day celebrations at the Oud Mehta campus of The Indian High School (IHS). The IHS Group, which used to organise massive Republic Day celebrations with performances by thousands of children from its three campuses, has scaled down the performances drastically this time in view of the pandemic.
The school will be hosting performances by around 50 students, with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocol. The rest of the students and members of the school community have been invited to watch the events online.
Some other Indian schools and community groups will also be organising subdued celebrations or virtual events this year, while Indian associations will be holding flag-hoisting ceremonies without public participation.
Painting exhibition, panipuri championship
However, some community events are also being organised by different entities to mark the occasion.
Funun Arts has announced that it will bring together 30 artists and 60 artworks on one platform for a month-long art exhibition beginning from Monday evening.
“The exhibition at Novotel Hotel in Dubai World Trade Centre is titled ‘Rang’, which means colour, as India is the land of different colours and diversity of culture. We aim to show our love and gratitude to the motherland India on the occasion of Republic Day. All participants are Indians residing in the UAE and will be showcasing their artwork based on the same theme,” said Shiba Khan, founder and director of Funun Arts.
Meanwhile, members of Indian Women in Dubai (IWD), an online group for expatriate women in the emirate, are also gearing up to celebrate the occasion. “We are planning to dress up in the colours of the Indian flag and be a part of the ‘Bol Gappa Pe Golgappa’ championship, which we are organising in tie-up with the Bol Gappa restaurant in Karama,” said Reema Mahajan, founder of IWD. The Bollywood-themed restaurant has announced that it will give the title to the customer who can eat the maximum number of ‘golgappa’ or ‘panipuri’ in one minute.
‘Panipuri’ is a popular street food in India. The bite-size snack item consists of a hollow, crispy-fried, puffed flatbread ball that is filled with potato and flavoured water, usually a mix of tamarind and mint. The challenge is to eat the golf ball-sized snack by popping the whole of it into the mouth in one go.
“It is a lovely way to remind one of the favourite street food from India when we celebrate happy occasions with food and fun,” said Reema. Hricha Saraf, managing partner of the restaurant, said precautionary measures to ensure social distancing and safety and hygiene will be taken care of while holding the day-long contest. “We won’t keep more than four people at one table and we will ensure that there is sufficient space between the tables. Only 20 people will be allowed inside at a time.”
Anybody can join the contest for an entry fee of Dh15, which is usually charged for a plate of seven panipuris. But, they can try to have as many as they can in one minute. The winner will be announced the next day as the contest is open until midnight. Food vouchers and a 15 per cent discount on other food bills will be offered as part of the contest.