Celebrating Diwali

Happy Diwali from my family to yours!

Unfortunately there’s no recipes from me this week, but instead I thought I’d take a little bit of time to reflect on my personal relationship to one of the most major holidays in my religion. It didn’t strike me when I was younger, but I’ve been starting to come to terms lately with how unique it is for me to come from a background of mixed religions. My mother’s family is Hindu, while my father’s is Sikh. Growing up, I learned a combination of both religions, which was wonderful at the time and to this day I am grateful that I had the opportunity to learn anything at all about my culture.

However, these days, I feel like I have a hard time sorting through which aspects belong to which religion. It didn’t help either that the area where I grew up was primarily white and East Asian. While I made many wonderful friends and had a great childhood, I never had anyone to talk to about shared cultural experiences. I forgot, or left behind, most of what I had learned from my parents in an effort to fit in with my peers.

This week, on October 24th, my family celebrated Diwali. I had a friend ask me what the festival celebrates, and I hesitated to tell her. My memory of the myth is questionable at best. I remember my mom sitting us down as kids and telling us the story of Ram, Sita and Lakshaman. I was enamoured with the tale, wanting to know more, and didn’t realize that the story I was hearing was not just a myth, but part of a far longer collection of religious stories. The answer I was able to give my friend was that Diwali celebrates the return of Ram, Sita and Lakshaman from exile after they had triumphed over a great evil. While it’s not inaccurate, I wish that I was able to give a more detailed answer without relying on Google.

Things aren’t all bad though! I might not have the detailed knowledge of my family’s religious holidays, but that does not mean that Diwali isn’t special to me. Being able to celebrate light, good over evil, and new beginnings with my family is always a blessing. We had a lovely dinner all together, which is a rarity for our busy household, lit sparklers, said a prayer and exchanged gifts. It’s a tradition that is important to me, and helps me feel more connected to my culture. I hope that one day, when I have more time, I’ll be able to educate myself more on the religious holidays I know I’m supposed to know. Until then, though, I will enjoy the good food and good company of the holiday.

Happy Diwali to all!

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