What is Diwali Day?

Created By: Shona Curvers Shona Curvers

Diwali Day is a festival of lights celebrated in many foreign countries, but what's stopping us from celebrating it right here in Australia? Shona explores her mixed heritage and the idea that our cultural identity doesn't have to be as rigid as we may think.

Blurry colourful lights
I’m going to have a think about how I can channel the Superman within and do some good for the world.

Forgive me for the cheap reference to pop culture, but I think that Seth from the OC had the right idea when he invented “Chrismakkah” – a happy blend between Christmas and Hanukkah which allowed him to appreciate both holidays equally and at the same time. As a semi-Indian, semi-European and yet wholly Australian 23 year old, I can see the value in this approach to life. But before I get ahead of myself, let me set the scene…

Where am I?

I have been to India many times, and usually when I arrive home my memories are dominated by thoughts of how different Indian culture is to what I’m used to. There are people everywhere, food stalls on the side of the road and I even saw a few elephants and buffaloes roaming the streets. Not to mention the fact that in India they speak different languages that are completely foreign to me. It’s a fascinating and unfamiliar spectacle everywhere I go which is probably why I have never fully identified as being Indian myself. I grew up in Australia and I’m therefore culturally Australian…Right? Maybe not. Perhaps things don’t have to be quite so simple.

The festival of lights

One of the Indian traditions that I’ve never really understood is Diwali Day, a Hindu festival of lights that’s celebrated all over India. This is a festival that I’ve never been personally involved in and don’t know very much about. I noticed in my calendar that it was about to roll around and I thought I should do some investigating to see what it’s all about. Diwali Day is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs and involves beautiful displays of lights of all the colours of the rainbow, and more. But not only is this celebration visually appealing, it’s also based on the uplifting notion that light will conquer dark and good will conquer evil. Turns out, this concept isn’t so foreign to me after all. It’s a basic idea that’s pretty much been at the core of every single movie I’ve ever watched, not to mention come up a few times in my own personal experiences. In fact, it seems to me that this is a concept that could be enjoyed by everyone, no matter which country they live in.

India comes to Australia

Diwali Day is an awesome festival that is enjoyed by millions of Indians (and some other nationalities as well),  but in the future when November 3rd rolls around, I’m going to set up my own row of lights here in Australia and give the Indian part of my heritage some love. I’m going to have a think about how I can channel the Superman within and do some good for the world. 

So, maybe when it comes to our cultural identity it doesn’t have to be so black and white. Maybe it can be all of the colours of the rainbow, and more.

Last reviewed: 04 September, 2015
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