It’s that time of the year again… the only one that I wait for with as much anticipation as my birthday – It’s Diwali! Back home in India, my family and I prepare for Diwali by cleaning the whole house and making special snacks and sweets. Then we invite our friends over on the day of Diwali and visit relatives the next day which marks the beginning of the new year according to the Hindu calendar.
This year, I spent Diwali in Sri Lanka, and it was a different yet great experience! I wondered how it would be away from India, and my family and friends but I needed have worried. My SVS family came together to celebrate the festival of lights with me, with lots of food, fireworks and fun!
Now, I possess little to no culinary skills, so when I was asked to cook some Indian food, I was nervous…but then I realised that even if it was really bad, no one else was going to know any better… or if they did, they know better than to say anything! And so, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the SVS family got together to prepare the evening’s feast. Out came the pots and the pans, the spoons and the rolling pins. The funniest thing was rolling the puris (a round deep fried Indian bread), which everyone tried and did a decent job at. When we fell short of rolling pins and wooden surfaces, we reached the pinnacle of creativity by using serving trays and beer bottles wrapped in cling film (True story! You can’t make this stuff up!)
After our demonstration of an extremely successful production line, we had a friendly game of cricket, because which Indian celebration could be complete without cricket! Sebastian had invited some of his family friends including one Indian couple. Obviously they brought over some Indian sweets which I was only too happy to consume! Then we all sat down to our sumptuous Diwali dinner with lots of other cooking made by or supervised by Mary, Sebastian’s mother. And of course, as per usual, everyone ate way too much that night.
By far one of the best memories that I have of that night is the fireworks! Being the festival of lights, fireworks are an important Diwali tradition. While Sebastian and his friend Khayam did the manly thing and set off the rockets and the fountains, the girls were only too happy to play around with sparklers (and trying our best to get Instagrammable pictures). I could not have asked for a better celebration!
Since Diwali fell on a weekend, my beloved students weren’t part of the celebrations described above. However, they didn’t miss out. I was given the opportunity to decorate the whiteboards in my classrooms with some fairy lights, which I’m so grateful for: the students and I felt so festive! And it was certainly a cut above what I’ve done previously in my working life – which was to just decorate my office desk. And it wasn’t just lights – my students also had the pleasure (?) of trying the sweets I made for them at home and they were very appreciative. I don’t know whether they liked my cooking or not, but they were so pleased to join me in celebrating Diwali that it didn’t really matter. That’s all I could have asked for!
To conclude, was my Diwali in Sri Lanka the same as it would be back home? No. But was it one of the best Diwalis of my life? Definitely YES! I did so many more things here than I would back home. I met new people, got an opportunity to share my culture with the friends I’ve made at SVS, made sweets (erstwhile mom’s job), and got a deeper sense of appreciation for the times spent with family and friends back home. And so, attempting my best Hindi – Aap sab ko Diwali aur naye saal ki khub shubhkamnayein!