While I've had years where i have not been able to celebrate it, there has never been a year when I got the date for Diwali wrong. But this year, I did and therefore did not do anything special that day except set up a shrine, after which I was too tired to do anything and offered my prayers the day after Diwali. Unlike Botswana 7 hrs), the US (10-13 hrs) or Fiji (17 hrs), Sweden is only 3.5 hrs behind the US and therefore holidays fall on pretty much the same day. My lovely niece in India sent me pictures of these Rangolis---which are floor art in India. They can be made with coloured powder, coloured sawdust, spices, rice, rice paste, special colours made for Rangoli (called aplana and other names in different states), coloured tapioca, or flowers.
It was a quiet Diwali, as I tried to ask friends to come over at the last minute but everyone was busy. So I bought my middle eastern sweets, --we have no Indian store here and these sweets are sweet enough to be considered Indian. I also bought Zaleba which in India is called Jalebi. Until I came to Sweden, I did not know that it was actually a persian sweet, that we Indians have borrowed and made it our own. And a fresh coconut,which we must have for all celebrations. I played my bhajans (devotional songs), and had as merry a time as I could. Deadlines looming, this was enough.
And I came across this article on how so many people are not able to take time off to celebrate their holiday. And this video--while its great, I think the fact that it was made by Pepsi, upsets me. Many Pepsi folks over work their staff. Many Pepsi like companies are responsible for this wonder of stress in our lives. I also remember how my Jewish students in the US would come sheepishly to me to let me know that they were taking a few days off to celebrate their holidays since there were no days off for any other but Christian holidays in the US. I guess Fiji and India spoilt me. South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia and some other countries do give days off for all the religions represented in the country. As it should be. But the problem is not just the US, but Australia and NZ and even many Islamic countries that do not acknowledge the changing demographics.
But these pictures of rangoli, sent by my niece, made me smile. Due to my regular visits to India I have forged a relationship with these children who were barely 2-3 years old when I left or not yet on this planet.....that is something that only technology could not bring us.
This Diwali, I am grateful that I can afford tickets and time --mostly--to maintain some important relationships in my life.
And this post goes to all my friends and family members...thanks for being my life. With you my life is Diwali!!