Celebrating Diwali ‘the festival of light’ away from home

Parul Chhaparia


No matter how much you settle down, integrate, and enjoy living in your ‘second homeland’, there are some days – the festivals – that you miss being back home, the place of your origin.

Diwali
Also called ‘Deepawali’ in simple terms means ‘the festival of light,’ is one of the most celebrated festivals in India. It symbolises the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The Hindus mainly celebrate Diwali. It is also associated with the praying of the Goddess of prosperity – Lakshmi. 
Generally speaking, Diwali is also colloquially referred to as Indian Christmas sometimes. It is about lights, food, fun, and families. 

Away from Home
For as long as I can remember, Diwali has been the biggest festivity at home. The five-day celebration meant a complete cleaning of the house, various rounds to the market to shop clothes, earthen lamps, and even gold, the banana leaf decoration at the home entrance, and elaborated feasting with extended family. 

Diwali poster
Diwali, das Fest des Lichts


This year we had the festival on the 4th of November, and the spirit of the festivity reverberated from India to our home in Switzerland. We tried our best to replicate the mood, embrace as much tradition as much as we could. We went and shopped Diwali essentials, including Laddus and Murkus (snacks), Diyas (earthen lamps), and decors from the Indian stores, prepared authentic Diwali special meals, invited close friends and tried to make it as memorable as back home in India.

Even though the enthusiasm was the same, and all went well with our celebration, it did not feel the same. And we wonder why? Maybe because our day didn’t start with the sound of a firecracker, or an early morning visitor, which usually is the case back home. The world outside our house felt regular with no festive feeling. Every day of the five-day festivity felt
regular, except for the main day, where we made extra efforts to feel the spirit. 

The only thing that has changed in the last five years in celebrating Diwali here is that now our neighbours know about the festival and wish us ‘Happy Diwali’ if they see us on the day. I even started a small tradition of offering food to the neighbour, which is, of course, much appreciated. 


I am happy with the way we have tried to have our ‘Diwali.’ However, it is this time of year when going back home becomes very important. It is this festival that reminds us strongly about our roots. It is this time when we feel caught between the two worlds – our two homes.


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