It’s no secret that Diwali is my favourite festival of the year. When we were kids the celebration was small and intimate; Mom would make a special dinner and a sweet treat, we’d light candles around the house, and we’d play with sparklers.
When I was 10, we went to India around Diwali and I got to see the houses in our pind (village) all dressed up for the festival. We ate sweets like nobody’s business, and set of firecrackers that we were probably too young to use, and I was sold for life on Diwali being my favourite holiday.
Once my kids were born, I quickly staked a claim on Diwali as “our holiday”. Both my parents and in-laws already had traditions in place for how and where Christmas and Thanksgiving were celebrated, but ironically, no one had a firm tradition for Diwali. My rule now is that the Pink Chai family celebrates Diwali at our house, and anyone who wants to is welcome to join us.
This year the holiday is on November 11th, so it might seem a bit early to start talking about getting ready for Diwali, but trust me, now is the time. In the past I’ve waited until after Thanksgiving and Halloween to start thinking about how I want my family to celebrate Diwali and it’s always felt like things are rushed. I don’t want Diwali to be an afterthought in our house, I want it to be the main event of the holiday season (which if you go from Thanksgiving to Lohri is a whole 3 months! Here’s a few things that I’ll be preparing and planning for over the next month…
The big house clean-up/purge:
A huge part of pre-Diwali prep is getting the whole house cleaned up. Many people believe this invites wealth and prosperity into your home. I also love starting the New Year with my home clutter free & reset.
Now that we are more than a month out, it’s the time to plan any major clean-up efforts and renovations. On my list before Diwali; finishing painting the kitchen and master bedroom, and purge the bathroom of excess stuff. A few weeks before Diwali I also like to clean all my windows and doors inside and out.
Not everyone decorates for Diwali, but I love to! I try to use decorations that can easily transition into Christmas for minimal take-down between the two holidays. This year I’m planning to decorate with gold, teal, and yellow for Diwali (at the request of the princess), and then I might switch the yellow out for another colour when we do our Christmas decor.
Since the kids do a lot of holiday crafts at school for Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas, I try to plan similar crafts/activities for them to do around Diwali at home. We also include them in shopping for special food items and new clothes for the festival. I want them to remember and enjoy the prep work too.
Cooking and Meal Planning:
The Diwali meal has to be fancy and over-the-top, and it usually requires a bit of planning. I tend to serve to classic favourite dishes and 2-3 new recipes for our festive meal. This means I might need to pick up some specialty ingredients, or practice a new technique, hence the early start!
This year I’ve also got this crazy idea that I’ll make all the Diwali mithai myself. I’m not exactly sure if I have the skills for that, but it’s exactly the kind of memory I want my kids to have of this holiday. I want them to remember that Diwali was about all things homemade with love.
Images by: Aziz Dhamani