Diwali Abroad: Keeping the Festive Spirit Alive in the Diaspora

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, holds immense cultural and religious significance in India. It marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year in certain regions of the country and is celebrated with great fervor. Even for those living far from India, Diwali remains a cherished holiday, symbolizing spiritual renewal, fresh starts, and a sense of community. It not only carries religious importance but also serves as a cultural anchor, reinforcing the identity of people of Indian descent worldwide. Diwali is a time of vibrant celebrations that bring together the international Indian diaspora in a spirit of joy, festivity, and tradition.

If you find yourself away from India during Diwali, there's no need to worry. You can still partake in the festivities and celebrate Diwali in a memorable way. Here are some ideas to make your Diwali celebration special, regardless of your location:


1. Connect with your Loved Ones

Diwali is a time for cherishing moments with your dear ones. Plan ahead and organize gatherings during the Diwali week. If you're far from family, consider reaching out to friends. You can still celebrate the festival together virtually, bridging the physical distance. Video calls through platforms like Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp are wonderful tools for connecting with loved ones, even if you can't be with them in person. Sharing this special occasion with others, even virtually, can enhance your Diwali celebrations and bring joy to all involved.


2. The Diwali Cleanup 

Diwali cleanup holds a special place in the hearts of many Indians, and this year, you can make it an enjoyable and productive experience. Start by creating a comprehensive cleaning checklist that includes various areas in your home that need attention. Prioritize tasks like doing your laundry, tidying up your shelves, flipping over the mattress, cleaning out handbags, optimizing storage arrangements, and sprucing up your cabinets.

Go the extra mile by delving into thorough cleaning of commonly overlooked spots, such as those behind furniture or atop shelves. Take the time to give all your household items a deep clean, and don't overlook the importance of decluttering. With these preparations in place, your home will be transformed into a sparkling, well-organized haven just in time for the Diwali festivities.


3. Decor for Days 

Enhance the festive ambiance of your home with the enchanting glow of string lights and candles. String lights are a timeless choice that can infuse any space with warmth and coziness. You have various options, from traditional fairy lights to charming paper lanterns or modern LED strips, each capable of adding a touch of magic to your surroundings. Fairy lights, in particular, work wonders for preparing your home for Diwali. You can creatively incorporate them by hanging them from the ceiling, placing them inside vintage glass bottles or mason jars, or even taping them to the walls. Consider scented and uniquely shaped candles as an alternative for illuminating your space.

To further elevate the festive atmosphere, give your living room or bedroom an instant makeover by updating your cushions and throws with vibrant colors and patterns. When it comes to setting the perfect Diwali dining experience, adorn your table with festive tablecloths, placemats, and captivating centerpieces. Also, don't miss out on the timeless tradition of crafting intricate rangolis in vibrant and delightful patterns on the floor.

Lastly, add an authentic touch to your Diwali celebration by decorating your doors and windows with the vibrant beauty of marigold flowers. These simple yet thoughtful additions will make your home radiate the spirit of Diwali.


4. Community Activities

Every year, communities come alive with a multitude of functions and celebrations, creating opportunities for joyous gatherings. To fully embrace the festive spirit of Diwali, consider exploring nearby Diwali melas, visiting temples, or participating in events hosted at community centers. These occasions not only allow you to partake in the festivities but also offer a chance to meet new people and forge new friendships.

In today's digital age, social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can be valuable resources for discovering local Diwali events. Simply search for keywords like "Diwali" along with the name of your city to uncover exciting happenings in your vicinity. If you're affiliated with a university or a South Asian organization, stay informed by joining their email lists or checking their event calendars for planned Diwali activities.

Taking your Diwali celebration a step further, consider giving back to the community. Volunteer at a local community kitchen, distribute essential supplies to those in need, or organize a festive event at a seniors' center. These acts of kindness on Diwali can be immensely rewarding and align with the spirit of giving and sharing that the festival embodies. 


5. Card Games 

The festival is a wonderful time to reconnect with friends and family, and you can do so even if you're not at home. Consider inviting your loved ones over for a joyous get-together, where you can engage in card games and exchange heartfelt gifts. It's worth noting that Diwali has a fascinating tradition associated with card-playing. Legend has it that Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband, Lord Shiva, on Diwali night, and she decreed that anyone who gambled on this auspicious occasion would be blessed with prosperity throughout the coming year. As a result, playing card games like bluff and rummy with a bit of friendly competition on Deepawali has become a cherished tradition.

If you prefer not to gamble, you can still enjoy the spirit of the games by using nickels or plastic coins as stakes. These card games not only foster a sense of community but also harmonize perfectly with the essence of traditional Diwali celebrations. Additionally, Teen Patti, a popular card game, is considered particularly auspicious to play on Diwali, as it is believed to attract good fortune and wealth.

To enhance the festive ambiance, you can also incorporate music into your gathering, allowing everyone to dance and celebrate the joyous occasion together.


6. Homemade Sweets 

Making and enjoying homemade sweets is a delightful way to celebrate and strengthen your family bonds. Instead of purchasing sweets, consider the joy of crafting your own. You'll find a wealth of simple and accessible recipes online, and I assure you it will be a memorable and enjoyable experience. Encourage all the members of your household to participate in this culinary adventure; shaping laddoos, for instance, can be quite entertaining when done together as a group.

You can explore a variety of sweet and savory treats that are perfect for preparing at home. Pongal, a flavorful dish made with rice and nuts, can be a wonderful addition to your homemade spread. Don't forget about burfi, a delectable milk cake, or kulfi, a delightful ice cream dessert. Rasgullas, soft and syrupy dough balls, and jalebi, a deep-fried dessert, are also excellent choices to tantalize your taste buds and share with your loved ones.

By creating these treats together, you'll not only savor delicious homemade sweets but also forge lasting memories and strengthen your family connections during this special celebration.


7. Care Packages 

During Diwali, it's essential to ensure that physical distances don't translate into emotional distances. Sending gifts and care packages can be a beautiful way to express your gratitude and maintain strong connections with your loved ones, especially since the festival is centered around the exchange of gifts. Consider putting together a thoughtful care package yourself, including items like chocolates, candles, and sweets, and sending it to your family and friends. A heartfelt gift can bridge the gap created by physical separation and convey your love and affection, making the festival even more meaningful and special for everyone involved. Remember, the gesture of giving is as important as the gift itself in fostering strong emotional bonds.


As we come together to light up our lives and share in the festivities, let us also illuminate our hearts with compassion, gratitude, and love. May the spirit of Diwali continue to brighten our lives and bring prosperity and happiness to all. Happy Diwali! 



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