Is it Diwali time and you find yourself outside of India? No matter. Indians living abroad do not let the small matter of their absence from their country affect their Diwali celebrations in any way. Here are six ways in which you can celebrate the festival of lights no matter where you are in the world.
A large part of Indian tradition as we know it pertains to festivals and holidays that form such an integral part of culture. For people who are living abroad, this might occasionally become a challenge because they’re cut off from the real Indian society. But many of these Indians maintain strong ties to their homeland and celebrate Indian festivals with great pomp and show.
Diwali is no exception. Here are a few ways in which Indians living outside of India celebrate the festival of lights.
1. Cook a big traditional meal. This is easier said than done, and will require a few helping hands if you’re going to be taking on the mantle of head chef onto your shoulders. But the rewards are enormous, because there is nothing as satisfying as a traditional Diwali meal, complete with sweets and spicy stuff. If cooking the meal is too stressful, try to do a pot-luck dinner instead where each of your invitees bring in a dish that they have made.
2. Host a Diwali party at home. This usually goes with the meal. When you bring together four or five families into one home and make it a convivial gathering where you eat, celebrate and light lamps together, you will be celebrating the very essence of Diwali – the celebration of family and friends. You can match this up with ‘non Diwali’ type activities such as board games, charades and Pictionary. Of course, you can also throw in some alcohol if everyone’s on board.
3. Host a cultural programme. This is easier done with the help of your local Indian association, and it requires a certain amount of planning. If you cannot organise one, do the next best thing and attend one! If you’re in touch with your Indian community, chances are that they will do something for the occasion. There will likely be dances, a short play or two, a few songs, and other such goodies. Go and take in the atmosphere.
4. Give gifts. Nothing says ‘I care for you’ with more eloquence than a gift. While you’re at it, why not take that extra effort and give your friends and loved ones hand-painted diyas made of clay? Distribute them in your neighbourhood, and on Diwali night, visit each other’s homes to light the diyas in various patterns.
5. Have a rangoli outside your home. We know that a rangoli is not strictly a Diwali ritual, but why not go out there and decorate your driveway or the pavement outside your garage with rangoli patterns? Chances are that your neighbours will come out to see what you’re up to, and that will give you a good conversation starter using which you can invite them home for Diwali celebrations.
6. Go to the temple. You will most likely have a temple close to where you live. Go there and participate in the rituals that they will definitely have for the occasion of Diwali. If you’re lucky, you might even catch some speeches and story-telling sessions around the mythology surrounding Diwali that most temples organise.