Sharing Diwali Celebrations
Lights, diyas, fireworks. The hustle and bustle of people. Music. The smell of Mom making our favourite dishes in the kitchen while Dad decorates the house. Meeting family and friends, old and new. Bright new clothes, gifts, and sweets, so many sweets…
These are some things I think about when I remember celebrating Diwali as a kid in India. Diwali was not just a day; it was a season back then. Weeks before the day of Diwali, the festivities began. It started with Autumn cleaning (much like spring cleaning but in October). All the furniture was moved, and all the linen was cleaned. In some years, it meant repainting the house and donating things we did not use anymore. As a family, we would assign tasks and tidy up. Decorating the home with rangoli, string lights, chandeliers, and a special set up of the little temple we had in our family room.
Once the house was set up, it came alive with endless visits from family and friends visiting us to wish us a “Happy Diwali” or “Shubh Deepawali” with a gift which generally included Indian sweets and dried fruits. We could not wait for the guests to leave and dig into it. We would also buy gifts for everyone we knew. Even shopping during this time was unique. Night markets were set up throughout the city with the shiniest decorations and yummiest foods.
As the five days of Diwali approached, it got more exciting. The celebrations included praying together as a family. Prayers of gratitude to Laxmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity, for visiting our house and filling it with good fortune, and to Ganesha, lord of success and new beginnings, for showing us new directions and destroying any obstacles. We sang spiritual songs together and enjoyed the offerings (prasad) as a family. After the prayers, we would fill our home with oil lamps (diyas) and enjoy dinner together. After dinner, everyone came out to the streets to light fireworks with our friends and neighbours.
Diwali has such significance in my life. It was a time full of joy, love, gratitude, and some of my best childhood memories. And now, though not as grand, the celebrations remain in a new country, with a new generation of kids, in a new way. What remains same is the joy, love, and gratitude.
Even though Diwali is considered a Hindu festival, in India, all the religions came together as a community to celebrate, and I think that was the most impactful part. So, in that spirit, I wish everyone prosperity, good fortune, and success! Happy Diwali!