Diwali Celebrations Away from Home

Diwali Celebrations AloneIt’s been just about 5 months since I’ve moved to Bengaluru for my new job profile of a Business Development Manager with a well-known multi-national company and I’ve been pushed to quickly understand what it is to set up house on your own and deal with a high-pressure, stressful work life. Seems challenging to me, as even though in my mid-twenties, I’ve always led a pampered, relaxed life with my family in Mumbai until now. But I can’t really complain…..as this was my call and my choice and I’m actually enjoying it, except for now! It’s Diwali. This is my favourite part of the year, but only because of family.

Everything we did back home during Diwali, we did as a family and hence it was so enjoyable, memorable and sacred. Whether it was the pre-Diwali shopping for household and personal stuff, the cleaning and sprucing of the house (my father and very busy working brother included), the sweet and savoury preparations and then the actual Diwali puja and celebrations……..it was always a phase when all the members of our small family made the effort to get together, despite each one’s busy schedules and make this occasion special.

And here I am….all alone in another city during Diwali, far away from my family. Unimaginable until now, but true! Guess we all have to grow up at some time. Yes, I could have gone back home for the festival, but then that would mean taking leave so soon during my probation period and spending unnecessary money so quickly again, after just incurring heavy expenses for renting out a place and converting this house to my home for as long as I stay in this job or this city. The last week was tough. After my grueling work schedule, all I did was cry and complain to my mum on video chat about how lonely and boring it would be during this festive time. My brother made it worse with his teasing about how he was enjoying his time at home and getting all the attention.

Celebrating Diwali AloneI would have been miserable had it not been for my mother. She sternly told me to grow up, take responsibility for my decisions and make the best of what I have. Of course, she didn’t forget to tell me how much I was missed at home and how this would be an equally painful and unusual Diwali for them, but they have chosen to support my career choice and moves and so will be strong and practical. She also advised me to make this Diwali special as it was my first Diwali away from home. And so, my mood changed! I came up with the brilliant plan of replicating my family’s activities back home, here in Bengaluru, in whatever small way I could. So I told my mum we would draw up a schedule of day to day activity till Diwali and share our experiences every evening on video chat. Thank God for advanced technology! At least that way, I would still feel the family mayhem and festival enthusiasm.

And so it began. This last Saturday and Sunday were days of marketing, shopping and cleaning. Since it was my first Diwali alone, I decided to make at least one sweet on my own with the help of my mum. So I bought the necessary ingredients and some festive items like fairy lights, beautiful earthen lamps and decorative hanging paper lamps to decorate the house with. I bought myself some lovely festive outfits and gifts for a few of my colleagues, who by now had become good friends. I was already in a joyful, festive mood and managed to clean, spruce up and decorate the house by Monday. In the midst of all this, my mom would unfailingly call me every evening and we would show each other our gifts and purchases and exhibit every nook and cranny of the cleaned and decorated house over the video. Oh….how wonderful it felt! I even managed to make some delicious kaju barfee with her wonderful recipe. I was so proud of myself and so was she.

Yesterday was Dhanteras. I managed to leave work early enough and went out and bought a pair of beautiful silver earrings for my mother which I would gift her later. I lit some diyas around the house and then joined my family for the puja over the video chat. It was a nice feeling to be part of it, even though I was not physically present with them. Even my brother was mellow and acted nice for a change. He actually purchased and showed me a beautiful delicate gold bracelet which was my Diwali gift. Guess……distance makes the heart grow fonder!

And today is Choti Diwali! A few of my friends and colleagues have decided to do a pot-luck dinner, later tonight, at my house. It should be fun. I also intend to let my parents chat with them for just a little while during the party. The house looks beautiful and inviting. I have made a wonderful flower rangoli outside my main entrance.

My Solo DiwaliAs for tomorrow, the actual Diwali day, I have invited one of my closest friends to spend the day with me. She too, like me, is away from home. We plan to prepare a little Diwali feast for us with my mum’s guidance and complete all the little rituals of the day together. It would be nice to maintain the sanctity of the day. In the evening we plan to join the kids and neighbors in the complex to enjoy the firework display and share sweets.

Strangely, this Diwali does seem to be shaping up pretty well even though away from my family. It definitely was a struggle coping with work and house alone, but then that’s life. In fact, I think, it only made me realize just how special and important family is for me.

Happy Diwali everyone! Wishing each of you and your precious families a wonderful time together. Cherish your family and time together.

 

Picture Credit: Ambaa Choate,  Askideas.Com,  Boldsky.Com

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