Every year I try to make my home smell and feel similar to how my mom’s did in all the years I was growing up. We went home to home savoring delicious feasts from different cultures. Diwali is not a linear celebration. It is a month long festivity of all that brings light in our lives. Bringing the crisp, cool air that comes around this time. A clean, elaborately decorated home. It is the excitement of new clothes, jewelry, kitchen utensils and decor coming into the home. Diyas and candles everywhere.
The smoky warmth, lights and shine of sparklers circling in the air. It is the huge spread of spicy, hot, sour savories and sweet dishes spread out on the dinner table. It is this smell of mom’s cooking wafting through the home bringing back memories of all the years gone by. One by one each candle is lit up, sending vibes through the house to turn into a haven for you. Though, in the past few years as you can see I have taken to making my own diyas which is my own little tradition and I am loving it.
How is Diwali traditionally celebrated?
- Prepping before the festival begins by spring cleaning and organizing.
- Buy gold, silver and kitchen for the home.
- Illuminate the house by lighting diyas, line them outside the door and around the house.
- Whip up and relish multiple sweet and savory dishes all through the festive days. Exchange them with friends and family.
- Put up door decor (toran) that can be made with flowers or cloth to welcome good vibes.
- Make Rangoli (intricate designs with colored powder or these days chalk) outside your door.
- Put up string lights outside or/and inside your house.
- Wear new and festive clothes.
- Making wheat or earthen diyas.
- On Bhaidooj, siblings share gifts.
- Light fire crackers to enjoy on Diwali days. (the MAIN event)
But in today’s fast paced world, celebrating traditionally is a real struggle. So, how do you make it easy for kids to relate to these age old traditions?
IMPART REAL LIFE VALUES THROUGH STORIES
Mythology though, is hard to comprehend by young minds. It is paramount we connect these stories to real world examples to make them easier to understand and digest. The many reasons Diwali is celebrated are a wonderful way to talk about life and it’s many pitfalls.
- Read children’s books featuring stories about Ramayan, Ganpati, etc.
- Encourage kids to ask questions about the story lines.
- Explain to kids in the simplest possible terms what every aspect of the story means.
When I was young I did not understand and even negated the beauty of the mythology of Ramayan. I could not find respect in my heart for a man who would exile his wife for no fault of her own. But now, over the years I have understood that it is not just a story to glorify God in the incarnation of Ram.
It is a story where it is proven that even Gods when in human form can make mistakes. So, we should not be so hard on ourselves when we happen to do the same. It teaches us that choices have consequences.
That when fathers make thoughtless decisions, children have to suffer. When people get selfish, the reward is nothing but pain. That when you do not pay heed to the warnings of those you love, you suffer. That not respecting women, can lead to the downfall of even Kings. That the happiness one feels when a child comes home is priceless.
That when disrespected, any woman can choose to part ways with her husband. But that is of course my interpretation. Anyone who reads scriptures or mythology derives their own meanings and using them to grow in their own life!
EXCHANGE MEANINGFUL GIFTS
In a materialistic world, it is important to teach kids to value presents made with thought.
- Make cards together for your extended family. Send them in advance. This is a great way to stay connected with family far away.
- Create idols from playdoh or earthen/ecofriendly clay.
- After spring cleaning (a tradition of Diwali), donate items that are old and have not been used for more than six months to those in need.
CREATE TRADITIONS THAT ARE FAMILY DRIVEN
Every year start a new ritual that convey life lessons and encourage creativity. Below are some great ways to connect as a family and dare I say, save money too. Being frugal of course is a wonderful trait to foster.
- Cook sweets or cookies together.
- Create cards or decoration together.
- Discuss and put up decorations together.
- Find new ways to use the older years’ decorations.
- Visit a local orphanage or old age home with gifts or treats.
- Create Rangoli at home with flowers or sidewalk chalk or pulses.
Connect with Your Community
In an age where people often get lost in the hustle of everyday life, it is important to connect with your friends and neighbors on this wonderful occasion. Organize a get together to create flower arrangements, Rangoli designs or art creations. Getting creative together in groups is a wonderful way to bond and break ice with new friends.
FIND NEW WAYS TO CELEBRATE THIS FESTIVE SEASON.
- It is fall season. What a wonderful time to collect dry
leaves, twigs, etc. Use these to create a bonfire in your
- Fill up balloons with glitter or pieces of colored paper.
- Burst these in the evening for a vibrant ambiance.
- Kids could even blow up paper bags and burst giving you the cheerful sound of crackers.
- Make Diyas out of wheat flour. It is very simple and beautiful way to decorate your home.
Wishing you a very happy Diwali this year.