As much as we wait for the biggest festival in India, we also dread it at some level. Because Diwali also means extra work – house cleaning, many people get their house painted or get new furniture made, shopping for clothes and gifts, etc. It’s quite a lot of work actually. For the same reason, I have never been a big fan of Diwali, however, I do like the enthusiasm in the air around this time. I made a promise to myself that I will never stress over Diwali celebrations, and I have mostly kept it all these years. Learn how we celebrate Diwali differently?
Diwali cleaning: I don’t wait till the last moment for Diwali festive cleaning. I engage professional help and get it done a month before the actual festival. It gives me ample time to declutter my house, find out what I need to buy and accordingly shop for them.
Minimal shopping: We have started believing in simple living. So instead of buying unnecessary things and increasing our carbon footprint, we take a lot of care into deciding the most important things to buy. I usually buy new clay pot, doormats, toran and some kitchen items. I refrain from buying clothes for myself and the family. Also, I prefer buying at other times of the year, it takes the pressure off during Diwali.
On Dhanteras, we buy a silver coin or a piece of jewellery (it’s an investment for the future) and on Diwali, we buy a kitchen utensil (anything that you have been needing for sometime).
Making sweets: We hear so much about adulteration in milk and milk products during Diwali, and as you know most Indian sweets are made of milk. Hence, I avoid buying outside sweets and prefer making it at home. I usually make besan ladoo, parwal ki mithai (pointed gourd sweet), sukhdi, etc. They are easy to make plus it gives me a sense of satisfaction to have made them myself. I offer only fresh homemade sweets to Goddess Laxmi.
During Diwali I offer sweets to my domestic help, building caretaker and security guards, the fruits and vegetable vendors from whom I buy all the year round and other important people which helps me run my home efficiently. However, instead of giving them milk-based sweets, I give them besan ladoos or rava cakes.
Bursting crackers that don’t make noise: I know we shouldn’t burst crackers at all because of the air pollution, but my daughter loves them, and I have not been able to dissuade her so far. So we buy a small box each of flower pots, sparklers and spinning firecrackers. Maybe in a few years she will understand and refrain from bursting crackers at all.
Offering gifts: I collect (either I buy or keep unused gifts) small useful things or knick-knacks (water bottles, compass boxes, pencil and eraser sets, bags, etc.) for the kids of my domestic help, and along with Diwali bonus and sweets, I gift those. You should see the wide smiles on their faces. It makes me realise the things we and our kids take for granted, how these kids appreciate them.
Making Diwali fun: Diwali for grownups is preparing for Laxmi Pujan, meeting relatives and eating festive food, while Diwali for kids Diwali involve crackers, rangolis and gifts. I make sure that my daughter has her share of Diwali fun. We enjoy making colourful rangolis together and lighting oil lamps.
Keeping things simple: My mantra is to keep things simple and manageable. I don’t undertake activities which stress me. I make simple food on Diwali and if it is not feasible – I don’t wear a saree which I know I should ?.
Keeping traditions alive: After doing puja for Diwali at home, we go down to burst crackers and meet neighbours. Once it’s over, we step out to see Diwali decoration on the streets. I particularly like to visit Gulmohar road and 10th Road in JVPD scheme – the lighting is pretty fascinating. And then we enjoy some ice cream before returning home. We have been doing this for years and look forward to doing this on Diwali night.
This is how we celebrate Diwali differently? What about you? How do you celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights?