The tyranny of a distanced Diwali

This year, with social restrictions in place, festive celebrations will be more personal.

Reading Time: 3 minutes


An Australian classic by well-known historian Geoffrey Blainey uses the phrase, “the tyranny of distance” to describe how distance and isolation has shaped Australia’s history and its national identity.

For most migrants from India, especially those who have arrived on these shores in the last decade, the distance between the two countries has not been a major issue. The tyranny of distance has been conquered by fast internet, WhatsApp, Facebook, and flights from a multitude of airlines with reasonable prices. Granted the 12-18-hour flight back home is long, but most take it as Phase One of their holiday.

It is around this time each year that the annual pilgrimage to India begins. Airlines, knowing the demand will be heavy, hike up their fares, and the challenge is to get away before this price increase. Time is allocated between various family members, holiday itineraries in India are planned, shopping is done for family and friends, and shopping lists are prepared for India. There is a sense of freedom in the air as one heads towards Diwali and the planned holiday.

Not this time. This will be a Diwali unlike any other.

The local Indian community has by this time of year usually been to an overload of Diwali parties and melas. The fairs organised by various community organisations around Australia have been seeing growing numbers in attendance every year. It is believed that to the weekend leading to Diwali, up to 100,000 Indian Australians will have attended one fair or the other nationally. And this does not include those going to the various temples to offer their prayers, or those tens of thousands going to the garba-dandiya dance nights. The community is buzzing and alive with the festivity of Diwali.

girls taking a selfie
Source: iStock

READ MORE: Dealing with Diwali blues: Celebrating away from home

This year, with social restrictions in place, the celebrations will be more personal. Small gatherings at home, restricted numbers at function places, social protocol at places of worship. The theme of this coronavirus pandemic has been to bring families closer together, as people worked from home, and students home-schooled. This will extend to Diwali celebrations too, as people spend more time in quasi-isolation.

What will be more difficult is the inability to travel to India to spend the festival season with family, especially the elders. To most Indian-Australians, having spent the last eight months locked up in this island continent, the inability to travel will start to hit home. Chances are, our travel restrictions may apply well into the next year, and the circuit breaker will be the discovery and mass rollout of a vaccine.

For those with families and strong support networks in Australia, this too will pass; but to those here by themselves, especially students, the next few weeks can be challenging.

Marking festive occasions on one’s own can be gloomy, and a virtual Diwali, though the order of the day, is no substitute for physical proximity and the laughter, fun and frolic of a traditional Diwali.

Perhaps it’s time for the settled community members to open their homes up to these students this Diwali. After all, isn’t Diwali a time when Lord Ram was welcomed home? Time for us to do so now, for those in need in 2020.

READ MORE: The world beyond COVID

- Advertisement -
Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


Listen to Indian Link’s NEW Travel Podcast

  Indian Link's NEW travel podcast- Feel New In NSW is all about travel and especially made for people who love to explore places in...

It’s National Blood Donor Week

  It’s National Blood Donor Week. In our new podcast host Ekta Sharma speaks to Canberra‘s Nidhi Kaushik who runs an amazing donation campaign every year....

Let’s Talk Boosters: Indian Link podcast

  In LET'S TALK BOOSTERS, a new podcast series by Indian Link, host Ekta Sharma quizzes Dr Kritman Dhamoon of Blacktown Hospital Sydney about booster...
- Advertisement -

Latest News

neil chandran fraud

Indian-origin entrepreneur charged for $45mn investment fraud

  An Indian-origin entrepreneur with ambitious goals of developing virtual-world technologies has been arrested and charged by federal prosecutors in an alleged $45 million investment...
Rajyasree Sen

The Sweet Kitchen: a guide to Indian desserts through the centuries

  A food columnist for years at Wall Street Journal India, Rajyasree Sen has written columns on food for a variety of publications and also...
kids in kitchen

4 reasons to bring children into the kitchen

  The kitchen is a simple and casual place, but it can also be a hub for developing and enhancing your kid's skills, be it...
whalers way birds

Saying no way to Whaler’s Way

  It’s easy to get excited about South Australia’s burgeoning space industry. Supporting a growing space industry, and the vital jobs that come with it,...

Sudarshan Pattnaik creates 125 sand chariots on Rath Yatra eve

  On the eve of Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, renowned sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik has created 125 sand chariots and a sand sculpture of...