Hi Everyone!! Hope you are welcoming Autumn with high spirits as this is the season of festivals and celebrations. Festivals are a huge part of anyone’s culture and ‘Diwali’ – The Festival of Lights, is one of the most significant festivals celebrated by me and my family.
This year we are celebrating Diwali on October 30th and although it is almost 2 weeks away, I just don’t feel the same excitement and fanfare around me as it was back home in India…..
The bright decorations at the mall, the shiny packaging on the sweets,
the aroma in the meals, the sparkle on the clothes,
the buzz at home, the lamps on the floor, the gifts galore,
the shiny lights on the street, the new Bollywood beat,
the hymn of the prayer, the agarbatti smell in the air,
the colorful rangoli, the diya and roli on the pooja thali ,
the ladoos and the burfi , the win in teen pati,
I miss it all …..I feel the absence of my family.
Of course it is hard to find the same cultural experience here in United States and I know it is silly of me to even expect it. But hey! At least I can long for it. The other day I was in Michael’s to get some supplies for Vir’s Halloween costume which I intend to DIY, and as I stepped into the store, the buzz and hullabaloo reminded me of the scene at the firecracker store in my hometown in Rajasthan, where we would go when we were kids. How we loved going through all the different colored sparkles, amused ourselves looking at the creative names on the new rocket and chakri boxes and searched for that new cracker which our neighbor wouldn’t have, while making sure all of them were within our budget.
As a kid, Diwali for me was about new clothes, firecrackers, chocolate covered dry fruits, decorating the balcony with lights, meeting my cousins and enjoying the break from school. Chores like cleaning the house, shopping for gifts, selecting that dress, seeking for more pocket money were the little things we looked forward to every year as Diwali got closer. As I got back from Michael’s the first thing I did was to create a Diwali wreath with the help of my cousin sister and my dear husband. I just wanted to get a whiff of that the Diwali spirit which has been lost in modern times.
Today, I am so thankful for all the cultural traditions that I grew up with. With every passing year, I have learnt to appreciate the meaning of each of these traditions even more. They constantly remind me of who I am and where I come from. These festivities also make me reflect on the literal importance of the holiness of each occasion. Staying away from home has made me preserve these traditions even more…..my culture, religion and language are the essence of my Indian Heritage and as a new mom I feel it is my responsibility to introduce my child to them and maintain their essence in our lives.
Even though I have been visiting India every year since I moved to Houston 6 years back, I sometimes get nostalgic. Especially during the festival season! On our trips to India, we would travel between 3 states to visit our homes and squeeze in as much as we could within the 2 to 3 week vacation. Lately, these trips have been planned around marriages in the family. A perfect opportunity to meet all our cousins and family members at the same place and the same time, dancing off to latest Honey Singh’s songs, while wearing elegant desi outfits and enjoying the incredible food.
However, right now, at this moment , I wish I was home preparing besan ke ladoos with my mom , making rangoli with my brother, choosing the color for this year’s salwar suit, packing the gifts for my friends and practicing my skills for teen pati. And even though there is time to book my tickets and head off to India, there are work and life commitments that I cannot get out of. Celebrating Diwali at home will have to wait again.
Yet!! I believe, it’s more the reason for me to celebrate my ‘Gharwali Diwali’ with similar emotion and joy at my home in Houston, because this Diwali is SPECIAL !! We were blessed with our son ‘Vir’, our bundle of joy this May !! And even though it will be difficult to recreate the same sentiment, I aspire towards sparkling my home with happiness, decorating it with shades of love , preparing the food with more joy and stand in the light with my husband and son beside !! My hope is not to lose my texture as an Indian in a foreign land with time, but to celebrate its elements and authenticity as much as I can.
A Happy Diwali to you and your loved ones!! May the divine light of Diwali spread peace , prosperity , pleasure and good health into your lives.
Do share with us on how you are planning to celebrate Diwali and what is missing this time.