happy diwali: life sparkles!
Diyas. That’s the first thing Jinkle Mehta associates with Diwali. Simple clay ones; fancy ones painted and decorated with sequins, beads, shells and mirrors. Diyas in all shapes, sizes and colours.
“As soon as my family starts planning for Diwali, I bring out our collection of diyas!” she says. “I love decorating our home – inside and outside – with them. We put up Christmas lights as well, but there’s something special about diyas. Of course, some years it is too cold or too windy for them to stay lit outside, but we keep going out to relight them!”
The family is originally from Baroda in Gujarat, India, and Jinkle describes what goes into a traditional Diwali celebration.
“For us, Diwali is celebrated over seven days of related festivals, each with its own special meaning. For instance, there is Dhanteras, on which we polish coins that have images of deities on them. The ladies buy gold or silver jewellery. All this is to encourage the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, to come into our home. The day after Diwali is our New Year and the day after that, bhai dooj, which is sort of like Raksha Bandhan, on which sisters do a puja with their brothers.”
Jinkle confesses that though her grandparents have gifted them books on the Hindu epics, most of what she knows about Diwali comes from television serials.
“I didn’t really read those books! But I am familiar enough with the tales associated with the Ramayana to explain the meaning of Diwali to someone who doesn’t know!”
The Mehta family is not much into sweets, but her mother makes seviyan on the day of. The rest, they pick up from stores to gift to friends and family.
“And we get boxes of sweets in return from them!” says Jinkle. “My mom also makes puris and special festive food over the days of the festival. She gets us involved in a special cleaning of the house – with this being our New Year, we want everything to be sparkling and fresh. There is also the custom of fixing any problems or issues we may have with anyone and making a fresh new start.”
The celebration in Canada is different from those she has heard of in India. There is no public holiday, for one. So the day has to be planned around work and school schedules.
“If Diwali falls on a week day, we wake up early and do a small puja in the morning. Then when everyone is back home in the evening, we dress up and go to the temple. We have temple prashad and then visit family and friends. Depending on how much homework I may have, we then get together with some of the Gujarati families on our street and burst some firecrackers.
“I love Diwali, it’s one of my favourite festivals!”