She said the purpose of the celebration was to express the community’s gratitude to the officials and mission staff members who toiled day and night for supporting the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Indians during the peak of the pandemic.
Dr Jayanthimala said she had helped organise 18 repatriation flights for expats from Tamil Nadu and had personally witnessed the efforts taken by the diplomats and other staff members for repatriation services. She said that those efforts inspired her to hold the Pongal event at the mission and also to host a sumptuous feast.
Under the Vande Bharat Mission of the Indian government, hundreds of flights were operated to repatriate stranded Indians in the UAE. Officials from the missions offered their services for registration of the details of those who wanted to fly home and for shortlisting those with the most compelling reasons during the peak of the pandemic. They also facilitated flight operations with necessary approvals, coordinated with community groups and government entities. Diplomats and staff members were also present at airports to ensure that the process of repatriation went smooth. “They did a marvellous job during the pandemic,” added Dr Jayanthimala.
The mission posted pictures from the event at the consulate and passed its best wishes on the occasion of these harvest festivals. Retweeting the consulate’s post, the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi stated: “The rich diversity of Indian community in the UAE allows each flavour of Indian-ness to be expressed fully.”
Indoor, online festivities
Some other community members, who also used to organise events to celebrate the festival, said they limited the festivities to their homes this year. “Last year, we had a nice celebration at a restaurant where our members wore ethnic outfits and performed traditional dances like kolattam and kummi. This time we just did puja [prayer rituals] and held a special Pongal feast at home,” said Meenakumari Pathmanathan, president of Tamil Ladies Association.
She said the regular practice of holding mega picnic parties has also been called off due to the pandemic.
Kesar Kothari, a senior member of the Rajasthani community, said the community members would miss the kite-flying ceremony they used to hold for Makar Sankranti. “Instead, we are attending a Zoom session where singers from Rajasthan will be performing,” he said.
Original news source Credit: gulfnews.com