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An NRI Diwali Celebration

Jisha Subin Jagdish
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

An NRI Diwali Celebration

Diwali – the festival of Lights…Is it truly a festival of lights as described when we think from an NRIs point of view? Indeed, it is the festival of lights, but the festivity doesn’t truly extend to all. Back home, whatever be the financial state, whatever be the family situation, we keep everything apart and the festival day is the day of feast and festivity, joy and celebration, togetherness and bonding with family. In an alien land however, an NRI’s life is centered around many other factors, most importantly office and work. That’s the priority, nothing else is as important as their job. It is not just the matter of money we earn from the job; rather a matter of survival. Diwali for the NRI has a very different image. Join me as we go through few of the scenarios as we try to light up our lives.

The very first category of people manages to celebrate Diwali with family, though away from home in full swing. Full of musti, colors, crackers and lights with the perfect festival mood. Rangoli in the morning, sweets shared among friends and relatives, fireworks and beautiful Diyas in the evening, their celebration is the very epitome of the festival of lights. Similarly, another lucky lot manage to go home for a short break enjoy Diwali and come back. If even luckier they would have gone home for Dusshera and return only after enjoying a spectacular Diwali with their loved ones. These are the happy stories with all the right feel good factors.

There is yet another category, whose family is back home. Even from this land without Diwali bonus, they still manage to send some extra money for Diwali to the family by doing over time or cut some of their expenses to cover up that extra amount. Their families celebrate in full swing with new clothes, sweets and crackers. The sad yet happy, lonely NRI is left looking at the joyous pictures sent by them through tear filled eyes on his smartphone. The distance from homeland is always the greatest when it is measured by a lonely person’s heart during festivals.

Not so happy, not so sad as the above cases is the plight of majority of NRI’s. This so called average person is sufficiently well off to afford a decent Diwali celebration but has no holiday and has to report to work. They move the celebrations to the evening and try to arrange a few get-togethers over the weekend. The day is spent in office, pretending to work, and surreptitiously sending messages and greetings to all their friends and relatives on e-mail and whatsapp.

Just when you think we have covered all possible scenarios, let me introduce you to another group of people for whom the very mention of Diwali is fraught with tension and worry. These are the working mothers with kids studying in Indian Schools. School gives a holiday for Diwali but they, the mothers have to be at work. They can’t leave the kids at home alone, they can’t take them to office and neither can they take the day off. The only available options are to find a baby sitter for that day, or beg the maid to come early, and end up sitting in the office the whole day worrying about the child, cursing the Diwali holiday. A few do manage to conveniently fall sick on the day, hide in their homes and are extra careful not to post pictures of celebration on facebook. The day of celebrations thus essentially becomes a day spent under house arrest. However, even this cannot be repeated in subsequent years as the bosses do catch on, even if they are not Indian.

Though centered around different emotional levels, Diwali is after all a joyous occasion. We still remember and celebrate the triumphant return of Lord Rama from exile. Amidst all the hurries and worries of his life, the NRI too uses this time to forget everything and enjoy. To all the readers of IIK, my personal wishes to each of you to let this festival of light brings light of happiness, prosperity and togetherness in all…Happy Diwali !!!

Jisha Subin Jagdish, Marketing Operations Analyst at Independent Petroleum Group, is a Post Graduate in Anthropology and a P.G Diploma holder in Business Administration. During her stint as a Research Assistant at Kuwait University, Jisha started contributing to various Anthropological and Sociological Journals, an exercise she continues to date. On a lighter perspective, she writes Short Stories and Poems. She is passionate artist who has anchored many stage shows, hosted TV shows and Interviews. Her footsteps into Short Films include Story, Screen Play, Lyrics and Direction.
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