Diwali Diversity in Detroit
"Part of what I love about celebrating Diwali in America is the diversity and the opportunity to share the holiday with others in my community. I'm the cofounder of a Detroit-area interfaith group, so my favorite memories are all about sharing my culture as I celebrate this holiday with friends."
Sharing the Spirit in Sweets
"We spent many evenings in the kitchen together, rolling balls of gulab jamun dough and learning how to swirl chaklis. I was always sent to deliver plates of food and sweets to neighbors, even if — and especially if — they didn't celebrate Diwali, as a way of sharing the spirit of the season."
The Fireworks Dance
"My favorite American Diwali tradition is the fireworks dance. Here in the US, we have to buy and hoard our fireworks during the Fourth of July only to use them in mid-October. By then, you're not sure if they still work. Watching people step forward and back, deciding whether or not to pick up a potential dud of a firework, is the best part of Diwali for me."
Doing the Most With Decorations
"I grew up with extended family always a stone's throw away, so that made celebrations like Diwali hectic. When we finally moved out, that changed my Diwali experiences a lot. It was no longer about the large family gatherings or the parties. Rather, it was more about my family and the time we spent together. My mother always tried to make it special regardless, decorating like we’ve never decorated before — string lights covering the entire house inside and out, tea lights on every step, rangolis all over the floors..."
Keeping in Touch
"Diwali means my phone blows up. Our family has a few different group chats that get especially busy during birthdays or celebrations. Aunts and uncles will send around e-cards and chain emails wishing everyone a happy Diwali, and we try to schedule phone calls with faraway relatives to catch up and wish them the best. It's meant to be a time of family gathering — that's not always possible, but we try our best."
India in the US
"Growing up in the States meant always hearing about how legendary Diwali celebrations were in India but never having the chance to actually experience them. So my mom always tried her best to re-create all the fun, despite missing our extended family and the lengthy school holidays. For us, that meant inviting the neighborhood kids over to play with sparklers and spending school nights skipping homework to attend poojas at friends' houses. It wasn't quite the raucous celebrating my cousins were doing, but they were special moments that still color my memories of fall."
"My favorite memories of Diwali are usually the end of the night — watching a Bollywood movie with the kids to give the day a more 'back home' feel!"
Celebrating Where We Are
"Even if it was just the four of us at home, Diwali was always an opportunity to dress in traditional clothes, count our blessings, and eat a feast of home cooking! It means so much to be able to create a microcosm of Indian culture wherever in the world we are."
Getting Creative With Ghee
"I remember spending days, even weeks, making enough sweets to feed a small country. My mom even printed off countless new recipes of sweets I might enjoy from the internet, such as brownies with tons of ghee."
"I spent Diwali last year with my family in India, after almost nine years of being away. There was so much fun, food, and laughter that it felt like re-creating childhood memories. One particular day of Diwali is called Bhau Beej, a celebration of everlasting love and affection between siblings. My younger brother couldn't make it, but we made it up to him by sending him tons and tons of pictures of the delicious food he was missing out on."
So Fresh and So Clean
"In my family, Diwali celebrations start with a deep clean of the entire house. It's a whole family effort that lasts a few days before we pull out the boxes of Diwali decor. My mom creates rangoli for our entryways, and we put out string lights and oil lamps in the backyard. There are always new clothes from parents and grandparents too, so I'll have a few different outfits to wear for every temple or pooja we go to."
A Pooja in Disguise
"Growing up in the US, there was one Diwali that ended up being the same day as Halloween! We were sitting in our living room doing a pooja while kids dressed up as ghosts and vampires were ringing the doorbell asking for candy. At the time, it was kind of disruptive, but though it wasn't the most traditional of Diwalis, it ended up being a really memorable one because of the adorable trick-or-treaters. It was very much Diwali in America."