Living in England since 1972, my family have always celebrated Diwali, which for them represents the Hindu way of celebrating this festival of lights, honouring different gods and goddesses and to embrace the victory of good over evil and the emergence of light over darkness. My most remembered story as a child during these festivities, was about Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity, beauty and good fortune.
I, myself, am not religious, but I grew up being surrounded by large family get togethers, delicious sweet and savoury foods, twinkling lights, candles and gifts during this five-day celebration. My parents used to also invite our English neighbours to their Diwali parties, and they soon became quite renowned for the place to go for plenty to eat, drink and lots of singing and dancing into the early hours (rumour has it that at one such party, when I was barely knee high, I systematically went around sipping out of the guests glasses – apparently I slept really well that night…)!
This year’s celebrations were extra special, as my Mum, son Dan and I, FaceTimed Australia and India at the same time to speak with family around the globe and to wish them Happy Diwali. This was the second one without my Dad who we sadly lost to Covid, so it was also tinged with sadness, but before the Pandemic hit, one of the last celebrations we had with him was Diwali, where we were invited to go into his care home and bring Diwali to Dad and the other residents. Between Mum, my sister and I, we cooked up tray loads of Indians snacks to take in and I even wore a Sari (with help from Mum and about 100 safety pins, to alleviate my paranoia about the material unravelling and giving the residents a fright).
For me it is similar to Christmas, in that whether you believe or not, it can be a most magical time for celebrating with friends and families and being steeped in centuries of tradition.