Why Must The Burden Of Diwali Preparation Always Be On Women?

I reasoned that since I am a homemaker, I should be the one following traditions. Could I even call myself a homemaker if I didn't spend hours getting on the step stool and cleaning off the cobwebs? 

Diwali is one of my favourite festivals. The magic of diyas, the cheerful blinking lights, the indulgence of sweets, and the joy of dressing up make Diwali a festival which I look forward to every year.

Diwali is also a chance to socialize. The weekends’ pre and post-festival are busy meeting friends and special Diwali dinners. But behind the hustle-bustle and magic of Diwali are weeks of frantic cleaning and making sure everything on my to-do list is accomplished.

How Diwali cleaning has become only my responsibility

The pre-Diwali cleaning ritual involves decluttering and organizing closets, deep-cleaning the kitchen, and washing the curtains. No nook or cranny goes uninspected, and a war is waged against dust bunnies. It is a backbreaking, annoying, messy chore.

While I do keep a neat house, this chore of “Diwali ki safayi” started because, many years ago, friends would ask me if I was done with Diwali cleaning. The seemingly innocuous question made me question my worthiness as a homemaker.

I reasoned that since I am a homemaker, I should be the one following traditions. I should, by example, show my children the process of getting ready for Diwali, and I started doing Diwali cleaning. Could I even call myself a homemaker if I didn’t spend hours getting on the step stool and cleaning off the cobwebs?

But frankly, over the years, Diwali cleaning has become a heavy burden. I get stressed out, my allergies flare up, and I barely have the energy to do anything else. I only do it because my conditioning guilted me into starting the ritual and, for some reason, I cannot seem to stop doing it every year.

Making of Diwali sweets

But I draw the line on making sweets for Diwali. It is a burden I refuse to carry.

A few years ago, at a Diwali dinner at home, a guest looked at the platter of sweets and asked, “Which sweet have you made yourself at home?”

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“None! All the sweets have come from the sweetshop,” I replied.

My flippant tone did not amuse the guest. They then went on to tell me how women in their region prepared sweets and savoury snacks, especially for Diwali.

Following the principle of Athithi Devo Bhava, I kept quiet, even though inwardly I found the person’s tone to be patronizing. When we visited their house for another festive dinner, homemade sweets were especially pointed out. I refused to look deeper into their eagerness to point out the sweets made by their wife. But the incident stayed in my mind over the years.

I have friends who make sweets and savoury snacks by the kilo for Diwali. They spend hours in the kitchen because it is the tradition. Everyone is ready to gobble down the treats, but members of the household will rarely help women in the kitchen. And while homemade is good, has anyone thought of the work that gets added to the shoulders of women?

Festivals and women have a love-hate relationship

When we think of festivals, we think of good food, beautiful decorations and gorgeous outfits. But who does the bulk of the work? Women!

Festivals, and Diwali in particular, bring extra responsibilities to the shoulders of women.

Of course, the question arises as to why this expectation falls on women. Why women are expected to honour, uphold, and perpetuate the customs and rituals? Even more important, why do women assume this responsibility?

I know many women who genuinely enjoy doing the preparation for Diwali. However, many women are influenced and conditioned by people around them to take on tasks that are just trappings for a festival. And once a woman is done with all the responsibilities, she is usually too tired to enjoy the festival.

So what can we do about it?

One can, of course, argue that women don’t need to do it all alone. They can ask for help or else, outsource the chores. But then, how many of us are privileged enough to outsource these chores? Even if there is a helper to help the woman in the house, who supervises the help? Moreover, I think, most men are either genetically incapable of seeing the work that needs to be done, or they simply don’t want to acknowledge the domestic chores that come before celebrating a festival.

This Diwali, if I had to do any safayi, I would say to clean the mindset that women are the only ones responsible for festivals. Let everyone help in cleaning the house, and everyone helps in making the treats so that the whole family can enjoy the festival together.

Isn’t that the true essence of Diwali?


About the Author


My Motto is you can learn anything from books! I am an engineer turned SAHM turned book blogger. I love to read, talk and write about books. I am passionate about instilling a love for read more...

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