Truth be told, the textbook tales of Diwali that we all learnt about in Religious Education classes at school back in the day about Rama and Sita, Lord Mahavir, Emperor Ashoka and Guru Hargobind, don’t really mean all that much to me—sorry mum, I’m just being honest!
But before you proceed to fill my comments box with dagger emojis, let me finish. That doesn’t mean to say that I appreciate the festivals of Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas any less; in all honesty it’s one of my favourite times of the year!
For me personally, I look to Diwali as the optimum time for unity and love, largely owing to the fact that it’s a festival shared by so many different faiths and religions. Indeed, as a Sikh we celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas first, but we also partake in the festivities for the ‘festival of light’ alongside the worldwide Hindu community, and also our Jain and Buddhist brothers and sisters, which is pretty awesome! And while our textbook reasons for celebrating may differ, in my eyes, Diwali is a time when we all get together regardless of religion and acknowledge our families and friends, the victory of good over evil and the start of a new chapter.
My mum and sisters and I usually celebrate by donning our best Indian attire (bindis and all) and making our way down to the Gurdwara, which is always beautifully adorned with an assortment of lights and decorations. We bow our heads and receive blessings from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and then each light a diva amongst the hundreds of familiar faces that make up our small town. Everyone huddles in crowds, giving massive bear-hugs to family members who pop up every minute or so, nattering away, coats buttoned up to chins to avoid the nipping cold winds, watching the flickering flames dancing all around us; it’s a pretty magical night.
And of course no celebration of the festival of lights would be complete without a ridiculously ostentatious fireworks display (I’m a sucker for a good fireworks display!). Little kids run around spelling their names in the air with sparklers as we all watch bolts of light shoot up high above our heads and then explode with thunderous bangs, covering the night sky with a myriad of glittering rainbow-colours. That’s what I always look forward to most of all. I don’t know why but there’s something about standing in a crowd of people, all eyes turned to the sky, with everyone concentrating on the same view and hearing the same bang after bang that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
And yes, the food is pretty amazing too! Mammoth feasts of mouth-watering sugary and fried snacks and dishes are guaranteed to make the top button of your jeans pop once the night is over (but it’s always more than worth it!).
The hustle and bustle remains in the streets almost all night long and when I eventually get into bed, without even realising it, I’m usually still smiling. Well until of course I close my eyes and still hear fireworks banging outside my window and my dad grunting in annoyance that he has to be up in four hours for work :/. Ah well, Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas only come around once a year!
So whether you’re celebrating this weekend or not: Happy Diwali and best wishes from this small town girl :D.