Happy Diwali to ALL – Home and Abroad!
Over the years, while living overseas, the Diwali day has become just like any other other Indian festival day. You don’t really celebrate it, especially if it falls during a week-day when everybody is at work or school. So, what we do? We say ‘Happy Diwali’, just like we say Happy Holi, Happy Janmashtami, Happy Gurupurab…, but it doesn’t mean much. It is just like saying ‘Happy Holi’ instead of the exchange of the real colors during the Holi festival.
And sometimes, especially if it is on the week-end, we get together and celebrate with food and drinks. The fireworks are ‘optional’, mostly forgotten…
Everyone knows what Diwali symbolize; we say it all the times when we explain it to our ‘non-Indian’ colleagues and friends:
‘Diwali symbolize the victory of Good over Evil, Light over Dark…’ We have memorized it, just like little kids memorize the multiplication tables in the school, without paying any attention to the meaning.
The meaning of Diwali is not lost in translation; it is lost over time and over physical distance of countries far away from India!
Diwali is special day in Indian culture; it is a divine day for Indians. No one disputes it; no one should. Growing up as a child in India, I did not care for any meaning of Diwali or what it symbolized. The fireworks were enough for me; enough motivation to look forward to this day, to ‘celebrate’ it in the real sense. The day filled with sweets and all kinds of food and the night, yes, the real treat, the night full of fireworks. We used to count days to the Diwali night, just like kids count days to Christmas in the Western countries.
Different places, different times, different ways of lives…
For those living abroad, fireworks on Diwali are generally not in the picture. For example, in many states in America, fireworks have all kinds of restrictions and not easily available. So, the order of priorities is food, some music and perhaps then fireworks! Fireworks, only if we can get our hands on them…
Even though at a small scale, the tradition of Diwali is still alive and well, especially for grown-ups. And, that’s mainly because we know what we are missing!!
As far as the Indian kids raised outside India, Diwali is not a big deal. And, that’s mainly because they have not experienced it first hand. They just don’t know what the whole fuss is about! Because, they don’t have the experience of night long fireworks, the crazy competitions of fire-crackers and the rivalries with the neighbors… And, they still have to go to the school on Diwali day, and the next day!! To them, Christmas and Halloween festivals are more appealing.
All in all, Diwali is just another Indian festival abroad; sometimes, just another day. Some may feel the nostalgic pangs of Diwali days; after all, we are emotional creatures, or we used to be…
Happy Diwali to all the Indians around the world! Don’t worry too much about the meaning of it; just live it, celebrate it, enjoy it… as much as you can. You only live once; well, not according to the Hindu philosophy, but you got the idea!
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