‘Our grandfather’s absence hit home’
I have lived in the Algarve for the last two years, so it was lovely to come home with the diyas (oil lamps) lit in the hallway, and the rangoli (beautiful designs using bright colours) already put out by my mum. Since Tuesday, we’ve been praying together in the evenings. The first day of celebrations begin with Dhanteras, which was marked with Laxmi Pooja to the goddess of health and wealth to usher in prosperity for the year to come. This day always stands out to me as we wash coins and silver collected over the years: the highlight is seeing a British Indian rupee from the 1920s with King George V and inscriptions in Hindi, Urdu and English. It reminds me of how long my family has been holding and washing this little pot of coins – a history that goes across India, Uganda and the UK, and is lovingly looked after every year.
On the 4 November, we celebrated Kali Chaudas (which echoes Dia de los Muertos celebrations elsewhere), when we remembered departed souls and the saints who protect our family. It has been sombre this year, though, as we lost our grandfather not too long ago to Covid in March 2020. He would often lead these same prayers with his deep voice every Diwali – so his absence hits home. For Diwali, which marks the end of the year for many Hindus and Jains, my family has lit the way for the good and the strength that we’ve all found in tricky times these past two years. The light of the diya has given us so much to look forward to and learn from, and we hope that this evening we can come together to end the year with some of my grandfather’s favourite food and calls to loved ones. Payal, 28, London
‘I’m off to my friend’s house for food and fireworks’
Earlier this week, I gave out small chocolate and caramel sweets that my parents sent from India to my colleagues at work, and I lit diyas and put up lights in my house. On 4 November, I sent wishes to my parents and to other family and friends. After work, I went over to my Indian friend’s house, who had invited another family over. We had traditional savoury snacks called mixture and murukku, and sweets made with urad dal called jangiri, and had loads of fun bursting firecrackers. Now I’m off to London to celebrate with my cousin, sister and family. She is having a party on 6 November with close friends, no doubt with more food and fireworks. Amuda Agneswaran, 32, psychology lecturer, Manchester
‘We’re eating our way through Ealing road’
We’re celebrating my 10-month-old son’s first Diwali by taking him to a baby sensory class in south Harrow, trying lots of new foods, and enjoying family time. We’re planning on eating our way through Ealing road, starting at Saravanna Bhavan, down to Ashoka Sweet and Farsan for Gujarati treats, and ending up at our family cafe, Maru’s Bhajia House. Plus something sweet from Jalaram Sweet Centre or Ambala – we’ll be having ladoos (sweets), and introducing our son to lots of lovely snacks too. We’ll also be visiting the mandir, and reading lots of Diwali stories.
On Sunday we’ll be celebrating with my immediate family (16 of us) as we normally do, with a Diwali party at my mum’s house. She will cook up a feast and we’re all dressing up, and bringing our Diwali books to my mum’s house this year so we can have dramatic readings of our favourite stories. I can’t wait for my son to spend his first Diwali surrounded by his cousins and the rest of our family. The evening will end in my mum and brother law lighting a few fireworks in the garden, before we’re sent home, packed with presents and enough leftovers for the rest of the week. Krishna Maroo, 36, university outreach manager, London