It was one week ago today that Hindus around the world celebrated one of the holiest days in their entire calendar, Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, also known as Hindu New Year.
As a first generation Hindu I was lucky to have my parents and grandparents around to teach me the traditional way to celebrate Diwali, complete with authentic prayers, foods, sweets and songs.
But as I pass these traditions down to my daughters I struggled to remember exactly how my mom taught us about our past and our traditions. It took me a while to remember how the prayer alter was set up. I wondered which steps during the prayers go first. I wasn’t even able to create the same dishes that my grandmother used to make on this very auspicious day.
In an attempt to keep our traditions alive for future generations of NRI’s, Non-Resident Indians, moms like me turn to the technology of the internet, quick references like IPhone Apps and the advice of our older family members to teach our children about our rich Hindu religion and to hopefully keep a bit of India alive within them.
On Diwali first generation moms tapped into several resources, (including long distance phone calls to grandmas, moms and mother-in-laws,) scoured the internet for Hindu prayers and rush to their local Indian grocery stores to buy mitai, (sweets,); the same sweets our moms used to take hours to make in our kitchens.
Here are a few pictures of a first generation mom, Gunjan Rekhi and he son Zyan, during their evening Diwali prayers. As you will see, keeping traditions alive, requires a lot more help with each new generation.
Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated by lighting candles and diyas (fire based lights) around the house, calling in the Gods from all over to wish our families with luck, proseperity and happiness