Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many families have had to change their plans this holiday season. Whether cancelling international travel, cancelling public events, or just limiting the number of guests at the house, the effects of social distancing are disproportionately hard on our celebrations. But canceling plans and canceling holidays are two different things. As we've discussed before, hardships throughout history have affected holidays in various ways. With an attitude of patience and gratitude, we can make this holiday season one to remember!
Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights. It is the biggest and most important holiday of the year, and is often compared to Christmas. Lighting oil lamps called deepa (pictured above) and wearing bright flowers are symbols of the celebration. Diwali is celebrated over a 5-day period, with special activities for each day including cleaning, decorating, cooking, visiting with family, and setting off fireworks. The date of Diwali changes from year to year on the Gregorian calendar because it is always celebrated on the 15th day of Kartik on the Hindu calendar. In 2020, we will celebrate on November 14th.
So, what can your family do to make your Diwali celebration safer? Firstly, the CDC recommends outdoor gatherings over indoor gatherings. Since that may not be as easy in the late autumn, due to dropping temperatures in most of the country, your family may want to look into buying or renting fire pits and indoor heaters. These will not only make an outdoor gathering more comfortable, but are a great investment for any backyard. If you must stay indoors, keep your gathering space well ventilated with open windows and fans. Circulating air helps slow the spread of germs. Also, you can try to spend as much time as possible outside, maybe only coming indoors to eat.
Next, you should limit the time you are in contact with people who you don't live with. Longer exposure poses greater risk. So, consider doing as much preparation in your individual houses as possible, such as cooking different parts of the celebratory meal, and then coming together for the actual eating and enjoying. Spend time over the phone or video chat catching up with relatives who are going to be at your party, so that you're not tempted to spend hours and hours sharing stories and reminiscing in person. And utilize as much space as possible when you are all gathered together, whether that means having multiple tables or spreading chairs farther apart. Additionally, you may want to have multiple smaller gatherings instead of one large one, and connect via video chat to feel as if you are all together.
Lastly, we encourage you to take the meaning of Diwali to heart. Use the traditional gift giving to contribute to the safety of the host home with items like air purifiers, extra PPE and sanitizer, or additional outdoor furniture like tenting, dining sets, and heaters. Do not succumb to spiritual darkness, and embrace the light of gratitude and empathy. We are all suffering due to this pandemic. But the beauty of the holidays is that they are a constant in our lives, both as something to look forward to in the future, and as the treasured memories of the past. Diwali 2020, in that regard, is no different. So, from all of us at Best Brains, we wish you a safe and happy Diwali!!!