WHETHER it is the food, fireworks, fabulous outfits or family gatherings, there is a lot to consider during Diwali.
Making the right decisions will usually mean the difference between having a delightful time or something not so memorable. With that in mind, Eastern Eye prepared a quick A to Z guide to having a great festival of lights.
A is for Animals: Be sensitive towards pets during Diwali because fireworks and crackers cause animals a lot of suffering. Many will flee after hearing deafening blasts or become fearful and they can also be affected by the polluted air.
According to research loud noises cause emotional and psychological distress but can also impact hearing abilities.
B is for Birmingham: Popular Bollywood actress Preity Zinta will be in Birmingham for a weekend of events to celebrate Diwali next Saturday (4) and Sunday (5).
C is for Credit crunch: With many people in financial difficulty, there are plenty of ways to save money during this festive season, including scaling back big parties for more meaningful gatherings (see Q). There are also ways to save money on gifts (see G), outfits (see O), and big family get-togethers (see Z).
D is for Dishes: Eating playing a huge part during Diwali celebrations means it’s important to look into healthy cooking. There are plenty of recipes and tips available online to make the various dishes healthier, including wholesome alternatives. Having healthy food is especially important if you have elderly relatives or those with medical conditions.
E is for Environment: Whether it is using paper plates or cups, instead of plastic ones or crackers that emit less pollutants, there are plenty of environmentally friendly alternatives worth investigating.
F is for Fireworks: If you are buying fireworks, choose ones with the proper safety marks. Keep them in a closed box, away from children and read all the instructions properly, including keeping the flames away from them. Get everyone to stand well back, put on a stable surface and read up on all the other safety precautions. Also dispose of used fireworks properly, including sparklers in a bucket of water.
G is for Gifts: The cost of living crisis means not everyone will be able to afford gifts this year, so be sensitive to those in that position. This is a great opportunity to do something more meaningful by asking people to make gifts – there are plenty of ideas online. You can also set a price limit of £10 and challenge people to get something within that.
H is for Hazards: Whether it is fireworks, cookers, sparklers or candles, there are plenty of fire hazards during Diwali.
Look at all the safety precautions, including not wearing loose-fitting clothes near cookers, securing candles properly, following fireworks instructions and disposing of them properly. (More so if there are children around).
I is for Information: Although it might seem overwhelming, there is helpful advice available online on all aspects of Diwali from recipes, precautions, money saving tips and safety advice to local events (see R).
J is for Jokes: Make your celebrations more entertaining by learning some Diwali-related jokes, but make sure to keep them clean.
K is for Key words: There are a lot of important key words associated with Diwali and learning their meaning will enhance the experience. So, if you don’t know what Dhanteras, rangoli, or diya means, get Googling.
L is for Loneliness: There will be plenty of people, including the elderly, who will be alone during Diwali. Take a moment to check in on them or better still invite them over for dinner or any event you are holding. You can also go to the local old people’s home and spend time with the elderly.
M is Music: If there is going to be a family gathering, prepare a playlist of music, taking into account everyone who will be there. Stick to the desi tunes because elders won’t appreciate expletive-ridden grime or hip-hop tracks.
N is for Neighbours: Be considerate of your neighbours during Diwali, especially if they don’t celebrate the festival. Let them know about any parties or fireworks, especially if they have pets or young children. Why not invite them over or give them some of the delicious food you cooked?
O is for Outfits: If you don’t have the money to buy sparkly new clothes for the festive season, there are plenty of great alternatives. You can swap clothes with a friend or family member or get an older outfit that can be updated. There is also an option to hire eye-catching south Asian wear online.
P is Phone free: With most people buried deep in their smartphones all year round, use Diwali as a moment to set them aside and be there fully for those around you. Go phone free during dinners and any kind of family gatherings.
Perhaps even make family members put their phones in a box during dinner.
Q is for Quality time: Although the good food, gatherings and parties are great, a more important aspect is spending quality time with loved ones. For many, including elders, the greatest gift is to be with them fully during this special occasion. Perhaps ask them about past Diwali experiences and video it as a keepsake.
R is for Revelry: There are lots of Diwali related events happening in the UK throughout November. These include family friendly, dinner and dance events.
Check www.eventbrite.com to find many of these parties.
S is for Share: Most people will cook more food than is needed during Diwali. To avoid food going to waste, you can either freeze it or give anything extra to neighbours or a homeless shelter.
T is for Tiger 3: The big Bollywood Diwali release is action entertainer Tiger 3. The third instalment of the action franchise and fifth in the Yash Raj Films spy universe once again sees Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif teaming up to defeat a deadly enemy.
U is for Understanding: Although celebrations take priority during Diwali, it is important to know the deeper meaning of this important festival. If you have young children, make them understand what the essence of Diwali really means – there are plenty of children’s books to help them.
V is for Volunteer: Add meaning to the festive season by doing something for the less fortunate. Whether it is volunteering and donating to a credible charity, help others. You can also use Diwali to clear out things you don’t need and give them to a charity shop.
W is for Water: It may sound silly, but drinking plenty of water is essential.
With the alcohol consumption, sweet dishes and stress of running around, people forget to hydrate properly. Water will make you more active and healthier, which will subsequently enable you to enjoy the celebrations.
X is for X-factor: What makes Diwali really special is the joy it brings to everyone. So, this year enjoy every aspect and make beautiful memories with those you love. Take lots of photos and videos, so you can look back with a smile.
Y is for Youngsters: Keep youngsters engaged with fun activities like making decorations and cards.
Z is for Zoom: Celebrate with those who live in different cities or countries by organising a Zoom party. It’s economical, fun and can cross continents.