Deepavali Special: How Two Mums Celebrate Deepavali

Deepavali or Diwali, is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the triumph of light and good over evil. It is said that when Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, rescued his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana, the people of Ayodhya celebrated Rama’s return by lighting up their houses with earthen lamps, therefore starting the tradition of Deepavali.

Here are how two mummies will be celebrating Deepavali this year:

Vihari Sheth, Jeweller

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Please share with us what Deepavali celebrations are traditionally like in your family. 

whatsapp-image-2016-10-25-at-3-21-48-pmOur family comes together from all over to Singapore to celebrate at my dad’s house as he’s the oldest. There are a few days of celebrations. Every day the house is lit with Diyas candles in oils and all the lights in the house are always switched on even during the daytime! It’s a festival of lights and colours! We normally have a few Poojas prayers that we recite to worship the gods of wisdom, wealth, health and intelligence.

Every night for four days we will go to our favourite restaurants to eat and come together as a whole family. We also have lots of sparklers!

What will you be doing this year?

whatsapp-image-2016-10-25-at-3-21-56-pm-1I am throwing a Diwali party for all my daughter’s friends who are not Indian where they will learn about the culture and traditions. There will be storytelling sessions of the gods, Rangoli arts and craft, and Bollywood dancing to share our culture.

What are some little known Deepavali traditions that you can share with our readers?

Getting dressed every day in new outfits, eating lots of sweets and yummy food too, and we give ‘envelopes’ filled with money! Diwali ends with a tradition we follow called ‘Brothers’ Day’ where the brother comes over to his sister’s house and she will cook him his favourite dishes.

What sort of food do you typically serve? 

Indian food, but special food like Puris, exotic vegetables and gourmet sweets have to be specially ordered in advance.

Can you share with us what Deepavali means to you? 

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It’s a celebration of light to life, the love for family and togetherness. It’s also to always ensure there is light whenever it is too dark, to come together as one and appreciate life.

 

Prerna Jhunjhunwala, Managing Director at Little Paddington International Preschool

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Please share with us what Deepavali celebrations are traditionally like in your family. 

For all of our Deepavali celebrations, we go back to India to be home with our families. Celebrations actually start the day before Deepavali with a festival called Dhanteras, where friends and family gather around to play cards and feast. While activities for children mostly revolve around bursting crackers, for adults it’s a time for music, dance and cards. We decorate our homes with Diyas candles and flowers as we have a lot of guests coming down to celebrate with us.

Traditionally on Dhanteras up to Deepavali, a lot of prayers go on at home. Dhanteras is the day when Goddess Lakshmi, the God of Wealth, is said to come and bless everyone with a prosperous year ahead. So the prayers involve praying to her and her husband Vishnu. This is also the reason why people play cards on the day because it marks windfall gains.

What will you be doing this year?

On the day of Deepavali we will go down to our offices for prayers and then come home in the evening to do prayers at home. Following which, our family along with extended family (over a hundred people) come together to burst firecrackers.

What are some little known Deepavali traditions that you can share with our readers?

Diwali parties in India can host anywhere from 400 to 500 people every evening and it is supposed to be a very grand gala affair.

What sort of food do you typically serve? 

Well the food my family serves during Deepavali is very traditional Rajasthani food. During Diwali everyone goes overboard — it’s kind of like like a mini wedding, so needless to say there are dishes starting from Chaat to Puris to Sandesh and so on. 20 to 30 different types of main courses and ten different types of sweets is not even considered much, since there’s a continuous flow of guests for three days.

Can you share with us what Deepavali means to you? 

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India has over 20 different celebrations every year, some of them being Teej, Holi, Karwa Chauth etc. where the entire family comes together to perform different rituals, but to me these rituals are more about togetherness or the bonding we create while performing all the different types of customs. I live in Singapore, and being a working women it is very difficult for me to go back for these events or even just to celebrate in Singapore. So Diwali is the time of the year I go back to India to be with my family and friends from home.

Diwali to me is the festival that brings us together — no matter which part of the world we are in. This is the time we go back home to our parents. Diwali to me also means the time we connect back to our roots. We are living in a very Westernised world and being Indians, it is important that we do not forget our traditions and customs so it is also a time for me to reconnect with my roots.

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