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<p>Photo: Reuters</p>

Photo: Reuters

How I celebrate Diwali in Karachi (and Lahore)

For me, Diwali is about family, friends and fun, no matter where I celebrate.
Published 24 Oct, 2022 03:19pm

Other than having to go to school the next day, as a Pakistani Hindu, there has always been no compromise on the grandeur of festivities and there is one festival in particular I look forward to — Diwali.

On the day of Diwali, as soon as I’d come back from school, I would immediately change and take out all the diyas and spray paints. While I waited for the diyas to dry after spraying them, I would use all the bowls in my house to put the different coloured powders in and, with the help of a reference picture from Pinterest, I would start making the rangoli.

After the preparations, I would have a late lunch and take the most rewarding nap ever as I would be exhausted!

After a nap on Diwali evening, I always wake up to the most gorgeous view. My mother would light the diyas in every corner of the house and sprinkle flowers around them. The rangoli would be decorated with diyas and flowers too. Every light in the house is on and the table is full of food.

Taking out the prettiest traditional outfit and my best jhumkas, I would get ready for the pooja at 7pm. This year, it is at our house but the location varies every year. My entire family meets each other and the energy in the room, while the pooja is going on, is incomparable — it’s warm and wholesome. Soon, after the pooja, everyone wishes one another other and the room is filled with echoes of Happy Diwali and loud, heart-warming laughter.

After the pooja, we all go to our cousin’s house, who hosts a Diwali party every year. Over there, you will find the yummiest food and more patakhas (fireworks) than you can possibly imagine (yes, I’m serious). Everyone takes their own patakhas, including the basic — phool jari, annar — and some not so basic — butterfly, toffee rocket and china bomb. Their patakhas, however, are always super interesting with the loudest noises, unique motion and stunning sparks.

Diwali night with family is always a night that not only fills your tummy but also your heart. Those who are scared of patakhas might disagree, but teasing them is what adds to the whole experience, after all.

Writing this piece while I am in LUMS and not at home, spray painting diyas and making the rangoli definitely brought back a lot of nostalgia, especially since the pooja is at our house today. However, I am lucky to be surrounded by the best of friends. My morning started with Happy Diwali cupcakes. The plan for the day was that we would all dress up, light some patakhas and then go for a nice dinner in the evening. Last year, I also could not go home because of my midterms clashed with the holiday but my friends surprised me with patakhas and mithai.

LUMS’s society Hum Ahang also celebrates Diwali just like you see in Bollywood movies. Four rangolis in the central courtyard and lots of diyas around the fountain, flowers everywhere and a big Happy Diwali banner with excited people dancing to desi songs.

While I love Diwali, all my non-Hindu friends love it more since we host them on the second or third day of Diwali and it’s heartwarming to see how excited and involved everyone is and how they all have so many questions.

This festival is very close to my heart. Not only do I have a lot of special memories attached to it, but there is also something so special about lighting up diyas and lights to celebrate the triumph over darkness.

May you celebrate this Diwali with your loved ones, with warmth in your heart and may it bring a lot of light in your life ✨🪔

PS: People often ask me where to get patakhas from — Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Karachi is our go-to.

Address: V234+QVX Bombay Light House, Seari Quarters, Karachi, Karachi City, Sindh

All photos by the author, unless stated otherwise.

This story is part of a series on celebrations of holidays of religious minorities in Pakistan. If you would like to share your story, write to us on images.web@dawn.com