Diwali is not what it used to be. I hear this of recent and absolutely agree.
In South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal and more specifically Durban (where you will likely find the largest population of Indians outside of India) the celebration, rooted in religion, has espoused a new cultural context.
This year, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini opened up his Nongoma palace to the festivities - a case in point that India’s biggest holiday has been taken by the diaspora and made into a cross-cultural event - universally symbolic of light, unity and harmony.
A Durban Diwali has evolved over time, shedding its tropes and triumphantly emerging as a celebration of light over darkness for all.
A bindi (dot) on the forehead of a woman of any nationality in our city is not uncommon.
The fashion and the food have been embraced by all.
For too long Diwali, or Deepavali, made the news for abuse of fireworks but, in recent time, the families I know, have left behind the big bangs in favour of a few star lights for the kids.
And while we all want to look good on this day and eat well, I believe a lot of the excess has been left behind in favour of the opportunity to relish good times with loved ones.
A spirit of generosity prevails.
For our centrespread this week, we’ve chosen to embrace the new ways in which we are doing things.
Fashion designer Haroun Hansrot braved the storm to bring us a regal but easy-to-wear cocktail dress for our shoot.
He suggests reworking traditional garments to suit our climate and lifestyle. “If you are going to make or purchase an outfit especially for Diwali, opt for fabrics that evoke Indian artisan styles but look for contemporary silhouettes. It’s East meets West.”
Make-up artist Angela Watson of Make-up Your Mind suggested taking the winged eyeliner trend up a notch with metallic or bronze glitter.
“A bit of cranberry colour lippy and rosy cheeks finish the look with the glam, glitter giving you the ideal look for a bhangra party.” She used multi-gel to hold the glitter in place.
Meanwhile, Chantal Chetty at Gallery Lifestyle Decor, known for her fairy tale weddings and functions, suggests pulling out your pretty cutlery and crockery to create a display table of sweet and savoury treats for visitors to your home to enjoy. “Vary heights and create groupings to add interest.”
She adds that heirloom brass vases and trays can also be put to good use to create centrepieces that with a few fresh flowers can bring colour into the home.
She said velvet, satin and sequin table clothes could all be potential show stoppers. Select these in Diwali colour reminiscent of ranjoli (Indian art) patterns.
Designer Sarojini Moodley of Khyris says a sari is the secret.
“If you’re really looking for something stunning to create a background, a sari might just do the trick. It can be reworked into a number of items from drapes to table clothes, scatters and of course new clothing.
“Many of my clients are asking to have heavily worked old saris made into modern jackets that can be worn over evening wear.”