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by Nov 7, 2018

Diwali / Dipalwali didn’t even exist in my little world until I was 35.  I have abnormally high blood pressure and my doc directly told me that I needed yoga.  I consequently met my beloved Guru Deepti and she invited me to my first Diwali party.  I showed up because I’m a curious person and learned that Diwali is the Festival of Light.  It is BEAUTIFUL and filled with colors and lights and laughter and so much food and happiness.  It celebrates and honors the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.  Could there be anything more beautiful to celebrate?!

Diwali has been celebrated for centuries and is the most important holiday in India.  The date changes each year, but it is always at the end of autumn, on a new moon, the darkest lunar day of the year (already!!! Isn’t that seriously the coolest?!). The preparations for the 5-day fest involve cleaning the home and fixing what is broken and then there is a day to buy new clothes and a day to buy sweets and then the actual day of Diwali celebration with family and fireworks and lots of food and then a day to appreciate one’s partner and the last day is to celebrate siblings.  On the day of siblings, brothers go to their sister’s home, she cooks a meal and they celebrate their relationship.  The WHOLE THING!!  It is all so beautiful.  Diwali is absolutely an all-time under-recognized holiday in American culture.  I hope someone makes a Coco-est movie about it so that it can rise in the ranks of celebrations.  

So here is how I celebrate Diwali in my over-simplified American way (Nov 7, 2018 / Oct 27, 2019 / Nov 14, 2020):

I really love the symbolism of Diwali, but I also love the practicality.  After a busy harvest season, the house is probably a mess (I know that by October mine is in really bad shape), and people have not seen their families for months let alone free time (we’re always a little frazzled with soccer and football and the start of school).  It is dark and cold and NOTHING seems better than playing cards and lighting lamps and spending time with the people we love while eating piles of food and sweets.

Clean-up — I do this anyway around the time change… but I REALLY clean the house.  I dust and sort and donate what we don’t need.  I sweep under couches and change the furnace filter and remove an insane amount of gray fuzz from the ceiling fans . I put the snowblower in the garage and clean out the flower beds.  It sounds laborious, but it is kind of therapeutic.  I love the cycles of the Midwest.  We go to concerts and walk and have picnics all summer.  And just when we are getting exhausted, the days get shorter and colder and we relax and unwind in our cozy little houses.

Lights — If it is nice enough, we’ve done sparklers outside, but to be honest, that was only one year.  I really don’t want to go outside in November unless it is above 55.   BUT… The oil lamps and fairy lights and candles all come out.  I put them all around the living room in a twinkling delight.  I tend to leave a lot of them out from this point forward.  Winter is dark and cold and the warm little lights are comforting.

Indian Culture — Our family really loves Indian food and has since far before Diwali came into our lives.  It is great for us because my daughter can be a happy little vegetarian and my son can eat piles of spicy chicken.  Every vacation we research the best Indian Lunch Buffet, but I make a damn good Tikka Masala for a very white person (recipe below on the right).  So, simmering on the stove all day is tikka masala and we eat naan (I don’t make it anymore, it is easier for me to just buy it from Costco for $4) and then a mango lassi/smoothy for dessert.  Hubs and I drink tea and make the kids chai tea.  I turn on Spotify to a playlist like this one:   Hindustani Classical or Hindustani Instrumental

Family Time — When they were little we did crafts with glitter and stars.  Now we play games or watch a movie or just talk around the table… but I don’t force it to last all night.  But for me… I sit in comfy cranberry velour pants with warm tea in my hand, enjoying a perfectly clean house (even if it only stays that way for one hour) and I recommit myself to kindness and compassion and the symbolism of Diwali.  It is the start to my holiday season and it the sentiment that I wish to carry through the rest of my life…

The Beautiful Symbolism of Diwali

The Triumph of Light over Darkness

Good over Evil

Knowledge over Ignorance

To Give and Forgive

To Unite and Unify

To Illuminate my Inner Self

And so to you my friend… Happy Happy Happy Diwali.  Love and light to all — and as we clean our homes and light our lamps may we gain knowledge and spread joy and together light the world with our compassion <3

Shanti Shanti Shanti – Peace individually, collectively, and universally  

The image on the right is my very Americanized celebration of Diwali menu and recipes.  If you right-click, it can be saved and printed on an 8 1/2 x 11

FYI- My little Diwali fairy lamp is one of my favorites… It stays out all year.  It is made from a Patron bottle that frankly resulted in quite a few great stories and fun times… I filled it with a string of solar fairy lights from Amazon with the solar charger out the window, resting on the sill… So every single day when the sun sets, often during dinner… the twinkling lights come on and it is the start to our evening… and then they just go off on their own at some point during the night.