By Sree Mythili Vardhan
Festivals are a part of our life. Festivals are meant to be celebrated together by bringing in family and friends, remembering those who are far from us, and offering prayers for those who are underprivileged. I am from India, known as ‘the land of festivals.’ There is a festival being celebrated almost every week in some parts of India.
I want to elaborate on one widely known festival called ‘Diwali.’
We celebrate this great Indian festival every November and it is known for drawing people’s attention to the fireworks. According to Hindu mythology, it is the celebration of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Long ago, people use to decorate their houses by lighting diyas (lamps) to welcome their family members returning from the battlefield. Now, it is considered to be a festival of joy and happiness, celebrated together with family and friends.
In Riyadh, far from the motherland, we celebrated Diwali at Al Reem compound by inviting people of different nationalities to attend and experience Diwali. We offered some traditional food and lit diyas and small fireworks. Everyone participated enthusiastically and cherished the festive atmosphere. Usually in India, all the house exteriors are decorated with electric lights and interiors with colourful mandalas and clay diyas. I believe that living in an expatriate community, it is essential to learn, accept, and respect diverse cultures. There are different ways to celebrate this festival. Diwali can be celebrated by either bursting noisy crackers, donating to the less fortunate or offering sweets to the people of our community.
However, with much to share and celebrate, we still miss those people who guard our nation and ensure our security. It could be the army, navy, or air force whose families celebrate the festival without their loved ones at home. I remember the times when I and my family celebrated many festivals without my uncle as he was busy in military drills. I think our celebrations are incomplete without offering prayers to ensure the wellbeing of the soldiers and their families.