What makes us different, makes us stronger! This sentiment means so much more in this day and age than ever before. I LOVE that I get to raise my kids in a culture that makes them aware and sensitive to the differences and the similarities around them. The kids may be different in the types of families that they are raised in and the different teachings they are given at home.
When they come together and play, all that matters is that they share a love for buttered noodles, bouncing off the walls when their parents would like them to stay calm and running on the golf course after hours and chasing lightning bugs! We are probably one in 3 (maybe?) other Indian families in our neighborhood and so when we put up lights in October we are either the over eager family ready and waiting for Christmas or the ones who get asked some great questions by curious minds. I love being on the receiving end of the latter because it tells me people around us are interested in knowing more and I enjoy sharing bits and piece of our culture with them.
We celebrate Diwali with as much fervor as we celebrate Christmas and are fortunate to learn about so many other holidays and traditions. We have been welcomed into our friends homes for Easter, Christmas and Hannukah and it has been an awesome learning experience for the kids and me too!This is what I love about this country that is home to me and my little family – not only is it accepting of the diversity but is also a true melting pot of all these cultures! Recent national events may seem to be challenging this basic core value that I hold dear but I would like to believe that it is the exception and not the rule.
When I moved here for my Masters and had to celebrate Diwali without my family, it made me sad and there were many a celebrations that were done over video calls. Once I started to form my own little family, things started to get easier because I was able to share the traditions that I had learned growing up with my husband and kids. Although our families are not always present at this time of year with us, we make it festive by sharing the celebrations with our friends and neighbors. This to me is one of the things I most cherish about this holiday. I always maintain that our kids make us be more social and if we were left to our own devices Nish and I may as well have turned into hermits. We love that as a result of having formed these beautiful friendships thanks to our kids, we can have a house full of kids and their responsible adults over to our house and share our holiday and all of the fun, festive gluttony it brings with it. It may not be the primary holiday for most of the folks who come celebrate with us but nonetheless it is a celebration which we all enjoy together!
We usually have a small crowd at the house to celebrate with some of our favorite traditional Indian food and sweets. All the usual suspects can be found including samosas, laddoos, and jalebi!! Diwali is not complete until you have devoured puris, aloo and kheerni. The celebration started with only a few families the first year we did this and each year it has gotten bigger and better as we continued to add to our Diwali shenanigans. It has now become an annual tradition that our friends and their kids look forward to as well! I remember the time when we had our kids’ friends over and I planned on reading a short Diwali story to them. I was so amazed at the rapt attention with which they all (even the adults) listened to the story and asked a ton of thoughtful questions. The kids all went home with the little clay lamps that they could paint and some Indian sweets. When I hear from the parents that their kids still have these earthen lamps and intend to light them on Diwali day, it makes my heart feel full!
While Nish and I will miss our families, there will be video calls with grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles to make up for the geographical distance!
We will bridge the gap by sharing our celebrations with a few of our friends over, as we have done in the past, so we can celebrate the festival in all its glory here – lots of love, laughter and light! And maybe some fireworks at the end of the night!
If you are in my neighborhood, feel free to come on over, our hearts and home will be open!