Posts Tagged ‘Diwali’

Christmas Holidays

December 21, 2012

As an Indian settled abroad for many years, Diwali is the one time in the year that most of us NRIs miss home the most. For me, personally, Diwali through my childhood was the most special and fun time. All my cousins would come to visit and stay with us. There would be lots of fun, masti, and laughter. And with all the crackers, the yummy food, and the celebrations; it was a time when as kids one really had a great time.

But why am I talking about Diwali when it’s just gotten over? Well because here in the US, Christmas is upon us. And the kind of celebrations, the holiday mood people are in, is exactly like that of Diwali back in India. People start preparing well in advance for Christmas. We buy gifts for friends and family; there are lots of parties leading up to Christmas, just like there would be leading up to Diwali. In many ways, Christmas here, is very much the Diwali of the West.

NRIs like myself get a chance to participate in a really popular festival, at the same time, recreate some of the Diwali magic of home, albeit, through a different festival. My children have been born and brought up here in the US, so for them Christmas is very much their Diwali. Their enthusiasm, their parties, their mingling with friends; each aspect reminds both of us parents of our own childhoods from Diwali time; mine in Delhi, Anita’s in Kolkata. In fact for Anita, it’s even more enjoyable in a way because Kolkata always had a very active Christmas scene, and here in NYC, the Christmas capital of the world; it just takes things to a whole new level from her Christmas times spent up and down the wonderfully lit and festive Park Street of Kolkata.

All in all, Christmas may be a Western festival, but living here for so many years, and for different reasons; it has become our own festival too. We have adopted it, and it has adopted us. And it makes for a very happy time!

Green Diwali

October 25, 2011

About a week back my seven year old son came back from school and handed me a note from his teacher. Tushar doesn’t usually get into trouble so I was a bit surprised to find he had a note which I was supposed to sign. I wore a stern look and asked for the note. What I read was such an eye opener, I felt amazed, and frankly, a bit embarrassed.

First off, it was not a complaint note, rather the absolute opposite. It was a commendation note his teacher had sent for an excellent essay. And now for the amazing and embarrassing part – after reading through his essay on Diwali, it was clear why he had been given such high marks. Because here was a seven year old who had written about how he would like to spend his Diwali allowance on anything but crackers!! About how he felt there was already too much pollution in the world and he did not want to add to the fumes or noise. About how he felt that Diwali was a time of celebration, but when millions starve on the streets, he didn’t think it right to spend unless he bought something for the needy…

It was an essay that would have done any responsibly thinking adult proud, and here was just a seven year old boy who ought to have been preoccupied with crackers on Diwali, and not necessarily with keeping the environment clean. The embarrassing part? Plainly put, the teacher too felt, it was us adults who had forgotten our debt to the planet and to society, and that it took a young boy to wake us out of our slumber, and hence the mandatory signature from me. And as I later found out, Tushar’s essay was printed and sent to each home, for the parents to read!

My point? Somewhere we have forgotten the true meaning of Diwali. But after reading Tushar’s essay, I realize that it is love, giving, generosity, sharing, and caring, for the self, for others, and for Mother Earth. And this has little or nothing to do with blowing up lots of crackers. I can only wish that more of us have this same realization this Diwali. That we don’t use our kids as an excuse to dilute the meaning of this wonderful festival, and celebrate instead, a truly memorable, green, clean, and happy Diwali. Happy green Diwali to you all.

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