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Homebound Holidays: Keeping Traditions Alight, Virtually

Tirumale Family Diwali

Diwali (or Deepavali) is a Hindu festival celebrated in India and a few other parts of the world. It is called “Diwali” in the northern part of India, and “Deepavali” in the Southern part. Diwali is also celebrated by some Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs.

The significance of Diwali is to celebrate victory over evil. We light candles, lights, or oil lamps called “deepa” or “diya.”

My family follows South Indian traditions. We celebrate for either three or five days. We wake up early in the morning, have a traditional oil bath, and wear new clothes. We offer prayers to God and start our celebration by eating lots of delicious food. Traditionally, we invite our family and friends to celebrate together. We decorate our house with colorful flowers and lamps. We also donate food and clothes to families in need. Many families decorate their front yards with colorful flowers or designs called Rangoli.

Food is the focus of the Diwali (Deepavali) festival. Families usually prepare lots of sweets. We also light fireworks or sparklers together to celebrate, where it is allowed. (Fireworks and sparklers are not allowed in Issaquah Highlands.)

A note from Shubha Tirumale, Samanyu’s mother: Normally, Diwali (Deepavali) is celebrated by bringing families and friends together. This year, instead of gathering together in person, we hope to have a virtual celebration with our family and friends, enjoying long conversations and traditional foods.

Photo: Samanyu (now age 9), held by his father, with his mother, Shubha, who holds a traditional diya during a past Diwali celebration.

NOTE:  This article was published in October 2020 Connections, featuring “Homebound Holidays in the Highlands: Celebrating Together, Apart in Issaquah Highlands.” Stories were provided by the Issaquah Highlands Cross-Cultural Committee. Read more stories in this series here.

As published in October 2020 Connections >>