Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Festival of Lights

In my walk around the city these days, I’ve noticed the wreaths, a million twinkling lights among barren trees and even candy cane! There’s no denying that the holiday season is finally here. I usually enjoy the festive atmosphere and when the air is saturated with Christmas music and gingerbread candles, I can’t help but feel embraced by warmth despite the chill in the air.

However, when I saw the decorations for the first time this year, I wasn’t thrilled. Something felt amiss. While this part of the world busied themselves with the impending holidays, another part of the world is about to celebrate a grand festival that does not make the slightest bit of impact here. At least not on the window displays in the middle of the shopping district.

On Friday, November 5, Hindus around the world celebrate Deepavali. It is a celebration I grew up with, and I remember many years of noisy family gatherings at my grandparent’s house. It’s the good kind of noise – the kind that reverberates in your heart long after you’ve heard it. Years later, I can still hear the laughter, the banter and of course, the fireworks. It was always so full of life.

This year, my family will continue that tradition without me, as they have for as long as I’ve been here. I will call and greet my mom, grandma and whichever relative that happens to be by the phone, and I will hear the noise that was once so familiar to me in the background. And my heart will ache. I’ve not known a gathering like this since I left home. Not for Thanksgiving. Not for Christmas.

It’s just not the same over here. The celebrations I’ve experienced in the States are generally more subdued and rather exclusive. It’s mostly the immediate family members that congregate on special occasions. In Malaysia, because Indians are only one of the three major races, we usually open our homes to the other races, the Malays and Chinese, on our holiday so everyone can partake in the joys of our celebration, and they would do the same in return. We’d invite neighbors, co-workers and friends, and all day, there’d be people coming in and out of our homes. And of course we would feed every single one of them. What’s a festival without an overabundance of food right?

Those were the days…

On Deepavali this Friday, it will be business as usual. There will be work. Then I will pick my daughter up from daycare, and if My Guy comes home early enough for all three of us to have dinner together (which rarely happens these days), we will have homecooked Indian food. I will light some candles in honor of the Festival of Lights and my daughter will go to bed at her usual hour. The house will soon settle into its usual evening calm with the exception of the occasional meowing cat. This will be our celebration.

It may be quiet, but for me, it will be no less heartfelt.


Diwali Lights

Happy Deepavali to all my friends and family. May you have a bright and joyful year ahead. I miss you and love you. Always.

Image courtesy of Peromyscus.