Written by Rohin Balkundi.
Graphic by Quynhmai Tran.

Christmas in October?

Let me explain.

The Indian Festival of Lights, better known as Diwali, is a five-day festival that is always held in October (since the Indian calendar is approximately 360 days to that of the 365-day Gregorian calendar, the actual day differs year by year). Diwali is seen as a time for celebration, a time to look back on the past and to look forward to the next year. 

And the lights.

Oh, the lights.

Indians don’t take the “festival of lights” lightly. The celebration is accented with every light (and I do mean every light) being illuminated. Diyas (lamps) are lit as everyone wears their new Kurtas and Sarees. and after all of it is over, we go outside and light the fireworks that have been hoarded since the last Diwali the previous year. 

There’s something beautiful about Diwali, time seems to slow down during those five days. The lights become brighter, the food tastes better, and everyone just feels better. It’s truly a sight to behold. 

It’s odd though, I have only come to enjoy Diwali in the past three or four years. There was a period of time that I used to see Diwali as just an event that I had to go through. I used to hate being vegetarian for a week, having to wake up at 5 in the morning to do our morning puja, having to explain to my classmates why I had the red kumkum mark on my head. 

For me, Diwali is now a form of being home even when I live far away from it. There’s something so beautiful about seeing the lights and lamps being lit on UT campus or even in apartments across West Campus. Diwali to me is no longer a solely religious holiday, it has transformed into a cultural one. I yearn for the savory spicy Chakli, the sizzling of sparklers, the illumination of all lights in the homes of Indians everywhere, but most importantly Diwali has given me a renewed sense of community. Diwali allows me to feel at home for at least 5 days even when home is far away.  

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