Diwali! A festival of light :). It fills me with so much nostalgia! Growing up, Diwali was about crackers, sweets and exchanging gifts with friends and relatives. My sisters and I would wait the whole day to go to the rooftop to light up fireworks and have a face off to show who was the most dare devil of the three and burst the most dangerous looking and loudest firecrackers. (This post may contain some affiliate link.)
Back then, celebrating in India, everything was naturally festive, no effort was required to “make” the surroundings festive. But now, being in a country where not everyone celebrates Diwali, not everyone understands the symbolism and there is not much festivity around Diwali time, it is important to “make” the celebration more festive. Additionally, as I have grown up and moved away from family, it is through festivals like these that I want to celebrate not only our culture, but teach my daughter to celebrate the culture around us, our family, togetherness, and every occasion that life has to offer.
I am fortunate that my sister lives close by (relatively) and I have lots of friends who celebrate Diwali too, so we typically get together at someone’s place and celebrate together. When you are away from family, your friends become your family. They are with you in every up and down in life with a helping hand or sound advice in your time-zone. So, who better to celebrate Diwali with!
I try to celebrate Diwali with some of its traditional customs. At home, we typically decorate the house with lots of candles symbolizing the onset of “light” in our lives. When my daughter was born, I switched to LED lights for safety. I found some nice ones which flicker giving the impression of real candles; safe and still with the same desired effect, what more can I ask for!
Another Diwali tradition I enjoy, is decorating my porch and foyer with rangoli. For those who don’t know, rangoli is an art form that originated in India, where patterns are made using colored rice, dry flour, powdered colors, or flowers. I do not have a creative bone in me and could not draw to save my life. Back in India, I used to be a helper to my eldest sister, who is supremely more artistic than I am. When our daughter was born, I wanted to welcome her for her first Diwali by trying to make a rangoli for her.
I was a new mom of a two month old, a novice at rangoli making and with 20 minutes at hand, this is what I could do. I was very happy with the outcome. Subsequent years have been better!
If you enjoy making rangoli, I found some mineral based safe options, you can find them here, if you are interested. This year, I hope to involve my daughter in the rangoli making process, should be interesting to see how that turns out!
In the spirit of encouraging asking the “why” behind everything we do, we also have been reading to my daughter about Diwali. I love this book by my dear friends Ajanta and Vivek (and its ranked 801 out of 8 million books on Amazon). It is simply written and perfect for children and even for grown ups like us who may need a refresher.
A tradition that I started with my daughter this year was painting diyas (or earthen lamps). I was scared to use liquid colors at home with her because we have a lot of light colored furniture and cabinetry in the house, but after I saw how well she was doing with them at school, I decided to be brave and try it out. And to my surprise, my daughter did brilliantly, followed every instruction and was fully immersed in the process.
She and I painted 3 diyas and we had so much fun doing these that I think this is a tradition we will continue, hopefully for a long time to come. If you have a little one at home, try this out with them, and hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised just like I was at how well it goes! In case you are interested, I got my basic diyas from here and I used these water-based colors that are easily removable.
On the day of Diwali, we will dress up in new clothes and do a small prayer for the well being and prosperity of our families. Then its time to burst some firecrackers and enjoy sweets. A lot of families enjoy playing poker (Indian version) because it is considered auspicious. Or there is dance and music involved and have a fun time as a family.
Speaking of sweets, no Diwali is complete without them! I don’t have the time to make these myself, so I bought some of my favorites – Ladoo and Gujiya! Can’t wait to savor these. Yummm!!! (yes, Himanshu will get his beloved jalebis!)
On behalf of Mamta, I and our families, we would like to wish you a very happy, safe and content Diwali!!