Diwali with a difference

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Spark off this Diwali with an array of innovative ideas, suggests SHWETA SIROHI GUPTA, and celebrate this traditional festival in an unconventional way
Happy Diwali festival.Indian Link
Living in a country where Diwali has no meaning, there is always a conventional way of celebrating with a fresh twist. You can celebrate this Diwali with fun rules… say with tons of candies, chocolates and small sized candles.
“Why not?!” echoes Parul Gupta, who is all set to celebrate her third Diwali away from home. “If you are all by yourself, rope in friends or just start the puja yourself, by lighting a brass diya and some candles. Try putting some chocolates in your mandir, adorned with a novel picture of Goddess Lakshmi (there are dozens of downloadable pictures available on the internet). Place some dollars in your pooja thali as you do the Lakshmi Poojan (Goddess of Prosperity) and play some aartis (religious songs) on your laptop. If you are game enough, search for the lyrics on the internet and chant along!”
Diwali festival.Indian Link
And then she gets all fired up with enthusiasm. “Hey, why don’t you drop in at your neighbours’ with candies, chocolates and candles! Irrespective of their religious persuasion, I’m sure they will be more than happy to light a candle outside their apartments and accept chocolates from you!”
chocolate diyas.Indian Link
The internet is also witnessing a frantic bustle over the festive season as NRIs try and connect with celebrations.
“It’s a festivities’ hangover!” says Rahul Sharma. “And the online communities are all united in a sense of longing. Folks abroad are all scrapping, pinging, e-mailing and discussion board-ing messages of missing home, and missing out on all the Diwali hungama. The Internet comes in handy when you miss family and that amazing spirit of celebration is in the air, and that’s when you learn to appreciate the things you’ve taken for granted so far”.
“Watching my family celebrating Diwali over the webcam can be voted as one of the best things in my life at the moment,” Rahul adds with a smile. “There is not much you miss when you ‘virtually’ join the celebrations with family and friends living thousands of miles away. You still feel connected and coupled”.
Diwali festival technology.Indian Link
When it comes to handy tips while celebrating Diwali away from family, Shalini Talwar shares a couple. “There is nothing to be frenzied about with your celebrations, given that our spice shops stock pretty much everything you get in India,” says Shalini. “All it takes is to keep some little things in mind which mums usually take care of. Like when you buy diyas (clay lanterns) prior to Diwali, soak them in water so they don’t soak in extra oil or ghee. After a day in the water, place them in the sun on a clean towel or paper until they are completely dry – then can light them to decorate your home. Be mindful to keep all your windows/balcony doors open when performing aarti so that burning kapoor and lit diyas don’t send off that smoke alarm! This festival of lights is supposed to bring fun, joy and togetherness; don’t mar its celebration if you are in a foreign land. It’s up to you to make it unique and special,” she advises.
Diya festival Diwali. Indian Link
For students based at Uni campuses, there is still plenty to look forward to during Diwali celebrations.
“Well, youngsters back home who nurture Western dreams must be prepared to make the sacrifice of missing the smoke and pollution and the smell of gunpowder that come with Diwali, but most universities have vibrant Indian student associations that do make the festival special,” says Kapil Singh, a student of La Trobe University, Melbourne. “The serious academic year pretty much kicks off with a Diwali celebration. And that brings with it a sense of bonding and belonging, especially to the freshers. Of course, the celebration includes other international students who are ‘fascinated’ by India, and you bet there are countless numbers of them,” he concludes.
homemade-chocolate.Indian Link
At the same time, when Australia is making an effort to ensure that Diwali is a special celebration for us Indians, how about flashing a festive attitude and enlightening our Aussie mates about the Festival of Lights?
“It doesn’t take much to acknowledge the festivity even if Diwali falls on a weekday. You can feel good by adopting a festive look – why not go ethnic?! To really stand out, layer a chikan-kari shirt with a zari-bordered silk scarf. You can also wear a delicate chiffon top and add a brocade jacket. Needless to say, many would ask the reason behind your gleam and glitter, and it’s a great opportunity to explain the festival and its celebrations to them,” shares Sweetie Shah, who is the only Indian at her workplace and loves to increase awareness about Indian rituals and festivals among her colleagues.

Vijaya Rathore, a media professional, has come up with some innovative gift ideas for Diwali this year. “Instead of the mandatory nut and dried fruit, why not gift family, friends, neighbours a pretty tray of spices this year! You can easily order superior quality cardamom, vanilla and pepper online. Arrange them all in a pretty tray or knot in a bundle with a ribbon bow. If you wish to add more exotic aromatics and make something really novel out of it, get them all arrayed in a wide but lightweight custom-made tray with a fitted glass cover. It could make a great centre-piece for your dinner table,” she suggests.
So this year, celebrate Diwali with a bit of creativity and enjoy the pleasure of the festival in all its glory.
Happy Diwali!

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