The crème de la crème of Indian Festivals is Diwali. This is the day to meet, greet and eat with your loved ones. Diwali is to Indians what Christmas is to the Americans. In our Indian culture the significance and celebration of any festival is understood and enjoyed with family and friends. When living away from home, our friends and work colleagues become our family, mutually filling the gaps of loneliness.
The best way to celebrate Indian festivals abroad is by being a part of the local Indian Cultural Association. Once you are registered with them, you are regularly informed about the various activities and festival celebrations. They make it easier for celebrating festivals like Diwali where we need special permission for bursting crackers or gathering in large numbers as they manage everything very well.
The significance of Diwali being the celebration of good over evil is never forgotten. It is the time to get back to our cultural roots. We look forward to going to the temple. Most Hindu temples have special Diwali Poojas and celebrations. It gives us an opportunity to connect to our spiritual self. Setting aside the routine of the daily grind and celebrating Diwali in the real sense.
Diwali is the time for gifts. Kids look forward to getting their wish list fulfilled. Children want to do something special for their parents. When we can’t do it personally we use technology and a lot of planning & buying goes into sending gifts to the family on the other side of the world. Online shopping websites are a big help. Technology also cuts down the distance. Video calling to India makes being with far away family so easy and enjoyable.
One of the most important things that binds Indians all over the world is our love for food. Festivals bring an added flavour to the festive food. There are special lunch and dinner menus at Indian restaurants. Reservations have to be made in advance to avoid waiting and the scrumptious menu will ensure you do it. Chhapan Bhoj which literally means 56 delicacies makes the experience ethereal for all the foodies.
We love decorating our homes as much as we love dressing up for the occasion. Colourful rangolis which signify the welcoming of Goddess Laxmi adorn our thresholds. Diyas and lights are lit all through the festivities. There are a lot of Indian stores that are stocked up with the diyas, rangoli colours and all the many culturally significant things required during Diwali.
Diwali means celebration. Celebrations mean fire crackers. Since it requires special permission to burst crackers, it is usually done at a pre decided venue, usually at the local temple. Everyone gets together to buy and burst crackers and it’s an amazing feeling. The sky is lit with lights. Children are very excited as it is only once a year that they can watch and enjoy the cracker show. The venue also sells fire crackers in case you want to enjoy doing it yourself.
There is no holiday for Diwali in most US States so, it’s during the weekends that people get together to enjoy Diwali parties. Friends meet up in festive attire with sweets and gifts and spend the day enjoying it in Indian style….eating, drinking and maybe cards too… Each family brings a special dish for the pot luck and everybody together enjoys the camaraderie and the celebration of Diwali….the festival of lights, togetherness and celebration!!!