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As times change, festivals must adapt too. Here are some wonderful new ways to celebrate Diwali to bring joy to you, your home, and those around you!
I love the festive season – the vibrant colours, flowers, lights, lamps, aroma of freshly made mithai (sweets), parties, and the generally buoyant spirit all around. You can sense the holiday mood in the air and here are a few ways to brighten up this Diwali for you and people around you, too. So, celebrate Diwali this season, but also remember to share and spread joy!
A lot of people I know make Diwali holidays their annual clean-your-closet occasion. You can do it anytime of the year but the holiday spirit and being happy and making others happy is a big catalyst to do some good. So go through all those closets and cupboards and take out stuff that has been lying there without being used.
Like they say – If you haven’t used it in a year, then you don’t need it. Follow that rule and sort through your things. One man’s junk could be another man’s treasure. So collect all that you take out and give it to your friends, house helps, a local NGO, school, homeless shelter or anyone who might need it.
A clean look is oh-so-refreshing. So, take out that dusting cloth and wipe away areas that are not cleaned regularly. Give your place an overall wipe and polish treatment. Oil those squeaky hinges, remove cobwebs, polish your silverware. Clean those mirrors and surfaces. Don’t forget the curtains, the sofa, and the carpet. These days you have excellent services available to come home and steam clean these items for you. Change your curtains or cushions and add some vibrant, warm and festive colours to your decor. Think red, yellow, orange, mustard, fuchsia, pink, and even greens!
Diwali is after all the festival of lights! Add some to your home. Try new things, different things this time. For the regular lighting you can put earthen diyas, and paint them yourselves. You can even make it a family activity and paint together with your kids. Use candles or electric string lights. For a lovely looking traditional touch place some brass or terracotta urlis filled with water, flowers and floating candles around the house.
Replace your existing lampshades with bright and colourful lampshades. For a unique and eclectic touch, use fairy lights around the curtain rods or hanging from the ceiling, or paper lanterns around your ceiling dome light.
Festival rituals are fun and memorable. You can make your own version of the existing ones. A friend and her family make rangoli together, every Diwali. It is a family activity and everybody pitches in with their drawing ideas, colour combinations and what materials can be used. The kids love it and are actively involved.
Last year they used flowers to make rangoli instead of the typical powdered colours. For the less artistically inclined or capable people, like me, you get easy-to- use rangoli stencil kits or even rangoli stickers.
Food is a big part of any Indian festival. And Diwali has so many options to offer, especially in terms of sweets. Each region has their own special mithai (sweet) for this occasion. Think kulfi, rasgullas, jalebis, gajar ka halwa, coconut barfi, yumm! Plan, make, or order food and sweets for your Diwali lunch or dinner.
We have a potluck dinner on Diwali night and celebrate it with family and friends. Everybody gets a dish, there is a good mix of food, and everybody enjoys eating something new. So cook together, eat together, and spend time with your loved ones. You can plan a menu and ask people to bring things that suit the menu or go totally mix and match and let it be a surprise as to who is getting what!
At work or in your community:
Organise a community day at your work place and head out to a local shelter. You and your team can cook a meal for them and serve dinner to the residents. Believe me – it is a very humbling and gratitude-building experience. You can also organise a donation drive where everybody at work brings 5 or 10 things from home that they would like to donate. Or you can go and spend a day at the kids’ or elders’ community home, play with them, eat with them and talk to them. Seeing smiles on their faces is one of the biggest happy highs you can get.
Instead of eating at the food court or from your dabba at work, ask all your colleagues to cook and bring a dish to work and have a potluck lunch. A change from the usual eat-by-yourself or in-the-food-court meals! Spread the joy further by sharing food with people who enable you at work but go unnoticed many times – the security guards, maids, cleaning crew, wait staff. Invite them for the lunch, spend time with them and bring happiness to someone’s day!
Post-Diwali clean up can be a nightmare for your community and cleaning crews. Try not to litter the place with firecrackers, wrappers, paper plates, glasses and cups. But if that happens, then get out there the next morning and help your apartment or locality cleaning crews to clean up. They will be thankful to you, and so will the environment.
This year instead of gifting to your family and friend who have a lot to be thankful for, bring the joy of gifts to people who would least expect it. So think of workers at your neighbourhood community store, the laundryman, the home-delivery boy, the person who washes the cars, the house help, the community cleaner, the driver, the newspaper guy, the milk delivery fellow. Give them tokens of appreciation or presents that will make them happy!
Have a safe, happy, and blessed festival season. Eat, drink, celebrate, and make merry. Along with all of this, remember to spread some happiness among people around you, too. That will enhance your own happiness a million times over. Happy Diwali to you and your loved ones!
Pic credit – Wikimedia Commons, and Diwali diya image via Shutterstock.
Simran Dhaliwal is an engineer, a wannabe traveler and a newbie runner. She has worked
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