How I will be celebrating Diwali during Covid-19
Diwali this year will be different. How could it not be with the arrival of Covid-19.
When a colleague asked me about how regulations will impact on this year’s celebration of the festival of lights, I grew somewhat melancholic thinking about it.
You see, Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is something you experience with your family and those who you regard as family, too.
Since I’m 600km away, I won’t be in Durban for this auspicious day on the Hindu calendar. Although this doesn’t prevent me from celebrating, it just isn’t the same. There’s something truly special about celebrating Diwali at “home”.
Aside from the infectious energy, there is an abundance of love (not to mention food, baked goodies and sweetmeats) and this incredible feeling of belonging.
Gosh, this takes me back to my childhood now.
I remember, about two to three weeks before Diwali, the inviting aroma of baking would permeate our home. Of course, I volunteered to be the taster, the Gulab jamun syrup dipper as well as castor sugar duster. Mind you, I wore these hats with pride.
As I got older, I joined in the baking spree. I loved trawling through those well-worn, hand-me-down hand-written family recipe books, picking out my favourites and taking a stab at it.
I baked everything from butter biscuits, Hungarian tarts to fruit cakes. I entrusted the banana puri making to the more seasoned family members.
As much as I was a beginner, I didn’t lack confidence as I sauntered around our cosy little kitchen, tidying the table, which was overrun with baking trays and ingredients, to make a place for the next batch of goodies.
Every day, the treats that were baked was carefully placed into round biscuit tins or Tupperwares and sealed with sellotape to ensure no air got in before we were ready to pack them into parcels.
On the morning of Diwali, I would rise early with the family, enjoy a bath with three kinds of oil, put on my new outfit and help with the distribution the treats to everyone in the neighbourhood. Every time, you arrived at someone’s door, they would offer you a drink and give you a parcel to take back home, too.
My other favourite part of this day was nightfall when the fireworks display would light up the sky. Although, I was, and still am, not a fan of those ear-drum popping bangs - I’m all for the sprinkling of those colourful sparkles.
Over the years, Diwali, like Valentine’s Day, has regrettably become more commercialised with fancy parcels becoming a status symbol and baked goodies coming from stores instead of the oven.
Also, you don’t rock up at anyone’s door any more. These days, you have to inform them ahead of your arrival.
Before I get carried away by nostalgia, I will say this, the celebration will continue – albeit in a very downscaled way.
My family in Durban has indicated they will not be having any huge family gatherings this year. My cousin, who loves to visit the temple for the morning prayer, won’t be doing so either.
Even though I haven’t had time to go buy a new outfit for Diwali, I will be celebrating with my other half. So it will be a day spent tucking into home-cooked food, store-bought sweetmeat and treats (who has the time, really?) and the lighting of my lamp, with clay lamps lining the porch and placed around the home.
And there will be plenty of video calls and chats with my family, too, so there is a light at the end of this story.
Happy Diwali to all celebrating!