Every year at around this time, Indians all over the world celebrate one of the biggest festivals of the year, Diwali, the festival of lights. I have described our previous family celebrations before, including my favourite tradition of painting diyas or clay lamps with my boys!
Indians in the US are mostly confined to celebrating Diwali, or any of their other major festivals, during the weekends, when they can actually get together with their families and friends for a prolonged period of time. Even though we do try to light our electric or battery-powered lamps (because who wants to take the risk of lighting actual oil lamps and being the culprit who burned their apartment complex down!) and doing a simple pooja on the day of the festival, we use the entire weekend for dressing up in all our finery, cooking up elaborate food and sweets, cramming our protesting progeny into traditional Indian dresses and suits bought specially for this occasion from India, and rounding all our Indian friends for partying with song, dance, and plenty of camaraderie.
The thing is, I don’t know of many of my non-Indian friends who truly know much about Diwali! I was just chatting with one of my neighbors this weekend and he didn’t even know what Diwali is! I feel it’s a shame when people and communities don’t know much about each other’s festivals, since we’re right in the melting pot of so many different cultures, and have the opportunity that not many have to learn new things every day!
Perhaps, it’s because it is more a community or family event, that others don’t participate in and hence, know much about, Diwali! After all, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah etc are considered family get-togethers and so, others are not really invited to those occasions; similarly, I suppose, Indians feel the same way about Diwali, and hence, don’t invite their non-Indian friends to their celebrations!
I’m not sure where the disconnect lies, except that I feel like perhaps extreme caution of not ‘interfering’ or feeling like you’re ‘getting in the way’ is the issue here!
Be that as it may, The Husband and I decided that, Diwali being on a Thursday, it would be great to have people who are close by come over for a mini-celebration that evening! So, I invited back all the neighbors who came to our barbecue party and with whom we had such a great time! I’ll stop my sermonizing now and let the pictures do the rest of the talking!