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Festive Fervor

Diwali and Halloween

Lamps lit to welcome Goddess Lakshmi-Goddess of Plenty and to mark the progress from darkness to light

Diwali-the Indian festival of lights is on October 19 this year. Like many Diaspora from South Asia, I too like to maintain my cultural connectedness to the nation of my origin by celebrating the festivities with friends and family. Since Bay Area is home to a large diaspora population from South Asia, festivities marking the celebrations abound. From fairs and festivals to dancing and singing-social celebrations of the festivals in various parts of US with substantial south Asian populace are aplenty.

At home, the festivity is all about fun, food, dressing up and readying the home. Prayers of gratitude and for continued benevolence are also an intrinsic part of the celebration. My eight years old recognizes her cultural identity and at most times is able to navigate her American and Indian identities with ease.

The proximity of Diwali to Halloween this year is resulting in some conversations and negotiations that bring out the beautiful reality of how the global citizens of our future are thinking and embracing dual cultures.

She wants to put up all shapes and sizes of ghosts and goblins on the entry door and in the front yard to highlight her Halloween spirit. I am asking her to hold off till Diwali is over.

According to traditional Hindu believes, Diwali-the festival of lights not only marks the victory of good over evil, but Diwali night is also to welcome the goddess of wealth-Lakshmi to a home.

Similar to spring-cleaning, homes are deep cleaned for the occasion and symbolic signs in the form of lights and intricate floor art patterns-rangoli decorate the front yards to welcome the goddess of plenty. The lights symbolize moving from darkness to light and from ignorance to knowledge in all spheres of our lives.

I tell my daughter that witches and werewolves will just have to wait. She tells me that a goddess will know that it is only pretend. Then to strengthen her argument she goes on to say that a goddess would be brave enough to not be scared of any pretend ghosts and goblins. I do not have a counter argument.

The limited real estate in my front yard comes to my rescue. “We only have place for some decorations and since Diwali is before Halloween, let us first put up the Diwali lights and then we can follow up with Halloween decor,” I suggest. She reluctantly agrees but since pumpkins are not scary, my Diwali decorations is complemented with the orange fruit. Actually, it meshes well. We are both glad and I am sure this happy compromise will make two happy festivities. Co- existence is fun and a reality to embrace.

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