Be the Light this Diwali by Payal Desai

Growing up in a small town in PA, we celebrated Diwali in a grand way.  My dad was the India Association President for years, and the annual program welcomed 100s of families to rejoice.  The dances performed were meticulously coordinated and choreographed by kids of all ages, the music and songs were memorized for months in advance, and the food was crafted and catered to provide a satiating meal to all.  Putting on this program was no small feat; it was a reflection of a community of immigrants grasping to hold onto traditions, and culture, and colorful celebrations rooted in their very own upbringing. And moreover, teach their children, the second generation who may have seemed more interested in Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas gifts, the value in lighting diyas and creating vibrant rangolis to adorn homes in welcoming the goddess Lakshmi.

And now here we are, this same generation of “kids” who grew up celebrating Diwali far from the land it originated in, and our challenge is to continue to educate now our very own children.  I’m a mom of 2, and this year my older son (4) is asking ALL the questions.  Why will we light candles in our windows? Why do we celebrate for 5 days? Are we going to have gulab jamun every night? Haha.  But I am so inspired by the creative ways I am learning how to pass our traditions down to our little ones (mostly from some fabulous South Asian bloggers!), and more so make this holiday so close to our hearts feel just as special through a global pandemic.

I know this year feels different.  We can’t plan our usual celebrations full of food, fun, and festivity.  But as I embark upon this holiday season, I need to remind myself that my sons’ gratitude will only mirror my own.  As much as my heart breaks that yet another season is passing without seeing my mom & dad & sisters, I plan to make our Diwali the best one yet. 

“I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical."



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