Recently I was asked to team up with the ladies of the Chai Mommas Blog again for a feature on our family in celebration of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. Diwali is a 5-day celebration of the Hindu New Year and is celebrated in size and excitement equivalent to how we celebrate Christmas in the U.S. Darshan grew up celebrating Diwali with his family and unfortunately as he and his cousins grew older the celebrations slowed down a bit, but for as long as I have known his parents that have always attended parties, dinners, and encouraged us to join them yearly. In the past, we always felt like we had so much going on, the dates of their parties never fit in our schedule, so we quite honestly just always let it slide. We made a point to call all of Darshan’s grandparents and family to wish them a Happy Diwali, and that was just about it for us.
In 2013, Darshan and I were so fortunate to be able to travel through India with his parents and Aunt and Uncle. We had the time of our lives and it was an experience like nothing I have ever had before. The beauty of India is indescribable, the people are so welcoming and warm, and everywhere you go there is so much energy that it is impossible to not fall in love with the country. Being so close to Darshan’s family, I knew I was going to have the best time from everything they told me, but I never expected to fall completely in love with the country like I did. When we were visiting we noticed everyone was in the greatest of spirits. While shopping there were ladies buying jazzy saris, outfits galore, and all over the streets we noticed street vendors getting set up and people lining the blocks with lights and décor. Darshan and I were intrigued and then we quickly realized what holiday was approaching: Diwali! It was the chatter of everyone’s home we visited, and we were so bummed that we didn’t plan better so that we could actually be in the country during Diwali. That trip was so special to us. It was where we picked our future son’s name because we fell in love with all of the stories of the Rajah’s and toured so many castles and on one of days while we were there the name ‘Rajan’ popped into our head and instantly we just knew we were meant to have a little Rajah of our own (we had no idea he would be born exactly one year later). After that trip we also made a pact to celebrate Diwali from then on because we witness first hand how culturally sacred it was.
Three months after our trip to India we found out I was pregnant with Rajan, and he had a due date of October 21, 2014. He was a few days overdue, and finally the afternoon before October 23, I went into labor. It was long and exhausting, but we were so excited to meet our future ‘Rajah’ (King). I was in labor the entire day of October 23, which also just so happened to be Diwali. We were so excited and so proud that of all the ways to celebrate, we were bringing brand new life into this world, what a beautiful gift and way to celebrate this wonderful holiday. We were hoping and crossing our fingers that he would come before midnight so we could tell him be was born on Diwali, buuuuut of course his stubborn little butt came screaming into the world just after midnight on October 24, which was just perfect for us, as he was our final ray of light and the perfect way to begin the new year!
Diwali has over the years become such a special holiday to our family. We try our best to celebrate it in any way we can, and while we hope to still make the celebration bigger and better over the years its something we really hope to make routine for Rajan and our family again. Now that Darshan’s parents are moving closer to us we are hoping they will start to plan yearly parties or dinners and I know his mom is excited about that, especially now that we have Rajan to celebrate with.
I was so honored and thankful when Chai Mommas reached out to me and wanted to send my family a Love and Light box (which can be purchased here if interested) they have curated for Diwali celebrations. It is filled with everything you need to kick off the Diwali and the three of us had so much fun opening up and enjoying the book, the cookies, the sparklers, and everything else inside. What I love about the contents of the box is that it is not just a pile of useless items for show, everything is interactive, and the book especially has been on repeat, Raj has never been more excited for a book. He even said the first time we were reading it, “mommy he (an illustration in the book) looks like ME!”
Please enjoy these photos of our family enjoying and playing with everything in the Love and Light Box. Also, you can check out my interview with the Chai Mommas on their website here, or keep scrolling and read my interview below!
Side note, would you believe me if I told you we shot all of these images by ourself?! Make shift tripod, timer settings and all… how amazing did Raj do!! We were so proud of how into it he was. We are a one-man (well I guess three) show, people!
Enjoy my interview below, and from my family to yours, Happy Diwali!
1.) What about our box speaks to you the most?
I love the excitement it brings to have a ‘gift’ waiting to be opened by your little ones. My husband, Darshan, would explain Diwali to me and equate the excitement of it to Christmas for him growing up; one of the most exciting things about Christmas is that you get to open and share goodies you get with your loved ones. Everything in the box is so much fun and most importantly, interactive! Toys are great for kids, but what is most enjoyable as a family is eating good sweets together, playing games, and making memories together – the contents of the Diwali box help to facilitate that entire experience and that is what I appreciate most. Also, the book has already become one of Rajan’s new favorites – he was quick to point out that the kids in the book look like him and as a parent it felt heartwarming to see that he truly connected with the characters of the book and felt a relation to them, it was so sweet and innocent!
2.) What’s your son’s favorite way of celebrating diwali?
Our son is 100% a social person by nature. He loves family events, being around others, and having a good time. Any excuse or reason to have a full house packed with family to celebrate is fun for him! Now that he is getting older he can understand that Diwali is a fun event to look forward to and gets excited about the celebration, which as parents makes it more exciting for you. His grandparents do a wonderful job of keeping the culture present in our lives so when he sees that there something is important to them, he really does a great job of emerging himself into the emotions of how they are feeling and the excitement!
3.) How has celebrating Diwali made you and husband closer?
One of our best memories of experiencing the excitement of Diwali was when we traveled to India together in October 2013! We were there just the week before the Diwali celebrations were going to begin so everyone in every town we went to were in full preparation. We were able to see the parade floats being built, there were decorations everywhere we went, and all of the family we were visiting were all telling us about their upcoming plans; we regretted so much that we had to leave right before the celebrations were about to begin! What we did take away from it though is that we realized we wanted to bring the tradition home with us. His family here in the states didn’t celebrate in a big way any longer because all of the kids of the family were grown up, but we made a promise to one another that once we had kids we would carry on the tradition as much as could and really encourage his family to get back into it because we really got to see firsthand how exciting the holiday is for everyone in India.
4.) How do some of these rituals in our box relate to your own heritage?
I am Mexican American so for me any reason to celebrate a New Year and new start is exciting. Sparklers have always been something that I love ever since I was a kid; there is just something magical about them. I love fireworks and the beauty and emotion they evoke, sparklers feel like a miniature version of fireworks and it just makes people smile and I love that! In the culture I was raised in, family and traditions are always priority above anything else, so if we start something together we do the same thing every year and it is something we always have to look forward to! This year Rajan loved the sparklers, which he has always been terrified of in the past, and as small as the act is just seeing his pride and excitement over finally feeling brave enough to hold a sparkler on his own makes me want to carry on this tradition every year for Diwali!
5.) Plus anything else you want to share!! What does love and light mean to you? What are your hope for Rajan in the new year. How do you keep the love and light in your daily life.
Celebrating Diwali with our son is something my husband and I value and place a ton of importance on. Living here in the states it can be so hard to carry on cultural traditions and holidays because they are the not the commercial norm you see when you walk into every store for several weeks. It is so easy for our son to be excited about Halloween, Christmas, and Easter, all of the holidays I grew up celebrating, because it is in his face 24/7 whereas the holidays my husband grew up celebrating are not as ‘in your face.’ Because that is just the reality of things, it is our job as parents in our home to create the same level of excitement and to place equal amount of importance on holidays such as Diwali. I believe that if my son sees our excitement he will grow up to do the same. My hope and prayers for my son are that he always cherishes and holds on to the memories we create for him. As parents, I hope that we do a good enough job of making these memories with him and sharing the importance with him so that as he gets older he can carry on the same traditions with his family. Overall, our goal as parents is to raise a good human. No matter what he believes, practices, or remembers as he gets older the number one thing I hope he takes away from seeing his mom embrace and practice traditions of another culture is that he can do the same, and that he will always be respectful of others and their practices, religions, and family background. If that is just the one example I leave for my son, I will have done my job right. Family cultures, religions, and beliefs will vary no matter who you marry or where life takes you, but respect for others and the world around you will always be defining character in all of us.