Last few days of October were all about lights, firecrackers and Diwali festivities. And we hope everyone had a wonderful festive season. But, Diwali is not only about sweets, savories, crackers, and new dresses. It is a celebration of family reunions and togetherness too. Over the years, things have changed drastically. Today, Diwali (or any festival for that matter) has become limited to food, lights and social media posts. Everyone is busy in their own hectic work-life hustle, many have settled across cities & faraway places that it becomes difficult to get together on festivals.
Diwali, especially in Gujarat, is the biggest festival of the year. The first day after Diwali marks the beginning of the new year in regional Gujarati calendar. My fondest memories of Diwali from my childhood were spending the Diwali holidays with all cousins and family at our grandparent’s home. Bursting crackers, gorging on all the sweets and snacks all day long. And on new year day, we all used to dress-up in new clothes, lining up to take blessings from elders (and not to forget the money too). We used to visit relatives and friends houses wishing everyone ‘Saal Mubarak’ (સાલ મુબારક – Happy New Year in Gujarati). Those fond memories of family reunion will stay with me forever. And that is exactly why it’s very important to give our children the happy memories of celebrating festivals with near and dear ones.
Apart from the fun, excitement and festivities, celebrating festivals with family helps kids link to our culture and traditions. It also gives us an opportunity to reinforce family values, emotional connect and a sense of belonging in the kids. Every family may have a tradition of their own. Celebrating a festival together instills a sense of love, reverence, care and sharing. Grandparents can narrate stories of family tradition, heritage and religious beliefs & practices to the young ones. All these things will create happy memories in your child’s life. Which, in turn, help build social connect and open their minds to new possibilities and experiences.
Our daughter Vritima enjoys all these festivities. In fact, we were in Gujarat during Navaratri/Dussehra festival. And every single day, she enjoyed dressing up in full traditional attire, staying awake beyond midnight and enjoyed the Garba to the fullest. She had so much fun with family and her newfound friends that she did not even want to come back to Bangalore. Here are some glimpses from Vritima’s Navaratri 2022 – typical desi Gujarat style.
Shortly after Navaratri, we celebrated Diwali in Bangalore. And even though Vritima loves this festival of lights, she was constantly missing the fun and togetherness she experienced in Gujarat. But in her defense, even we were missing the festive vibes, dazzling fireworks, the family reunion and togetherness. However, that did not stop us from following our usual Diwali traditions. Vritima enjoyed performing puja and decorated the house with flowers, lights and earthen lamps. We had a small get-together with couple of our neighbors (they are like our extended family in Bangalore). And how can we celebrate Diwali without the firecrackers? Vritima was very excited to light-up the sparkles, flower pot and other firecrackers, all on her own.
Next day on Gujarati New Year, even though not physically, we still wished traditional ‘Saal Mubarak’ to family & relatives virtually with video calling. Vritima took blessings from grandparents and all other elders, of course, minus the pocket money that we used to get in our childhood. One more disadvantage of the changed times that the next generation will have to face.
Just like Diwali, the festival of lights, family bond and togetherness should be the guiding light in our kids’ lives. Now, Vritima is old enough to understand the importance of family bond, social connect and togetherness. It is high time that we take some time off from our busy schedules and help her create happy memories which she can cherish for the rest of her life.
Finally, to conclude and best summarize the importance of happy memories, here’s a quote from author Barbara Johnson –
“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow,
You have to be present in their lives today.”
P.S. – Last but not the least, enjoy some glimpses of Vritima’s Navaratri Garba on below YouTube video.