Diwali: Celebrating Safely as a Community
Diwali is one of the many festivals celebrated in India, in 2020 it is being celebrated on November 14. Also known as the festival of lights, it is one of the most important and widely celebrated holidays of India. It is a day when Indians light a row of clay lamps outside their house to symbolise inner light that protects us from darkness.
Originally celebrated by Hindus, it is now celebrated by a range of communities in India, including Buddhists and Jains. In Northern India, Diwali marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, when he returns to Ayodhya. In South India, it marks the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura. In this way, different communities and religions have associated with the festival. This makes it their own and brings in a spirit of togetherness.
Although the original idea was to celebrate Diwali by lighting lamps, wearing traditional clothing, distributing sweets and cleaning homes, the festival also got associated with bursting a variety of fire crackers that were extremely harmful for the environment. Not only did they cause a lot of pollution in the air, but they also resulted in noise pollution disturbing people and animals. This led to accidents, since no one knows who firecrackers can hurt once lit. In India, the situation was so bad that in several areas, authorities banned firecrackers. This brought the pollution and damage under control, and ensured the safety of people and the environment.
People now approach this with a different attitude and have started to celebrate eco-friendly Diwali. This includes strictly not using or encouraging the use of firecrackers. Instead, people are now spending time with their families, celebrating in gatherings, and bringing a feeling of belonging.
Due to globalisation, communities of people celebrating Diwali can are visible across the world. Through social media, Indians scattered globally can connect and still celebrate together. Indians living in the same region can form a group and carry out celebrations, educating those who don’t celebrate Diwali about its rich culture and history. This way, internationalisation of Diwali has occurred, blurring geographical lines. People are able to connect with the meaning behind the festival regardless of their location or culture.
Being in a pandemic, it is not possible for many people to form large gatherings to celebrate Diwali, which may make them feel a loss of community. But there are ways in which they can stay connected and allow their bond to flourish despite not being together. People can get on calls from home, and interact with their loved ones. They can stay inside and enjoy the festival by staying with close friends and family. Another way to celebrate is to send each other Diwali gifts, sweets, new clothes or painted diyas from home. Sending something that would reinforce their solidarity and affection would help bring back the sense of community.
Therefore, Diwali, the festival of lights, brings people together in these hard times, helping them feel emotionally together and safe. It gives them a common ground to express and be proud of their culture and tradition in a safe, eco-friendly way. Social media can help people display how they are celebrating, and expose them to ways in which they can make their Diwali more enjoyable and interesting. Most importantly, the sense of togetherness reinforces positivity and peace of mind.