15 Things to Do on Diwali when Living Abroad

Diwali, the Indian festival of light, is celebrated in India with grandeur. People from all over the world visit Indian cities to witness the amazing festive atmosphere… but what about those of us who live outside India? Is Diwali a special day for us?

While it is true that no Diwali celebration abroad can equal the festive spirit of the festival of light in India, there are a bunch of ways to make your Diwali special, wherever you are in the world.

Whether you are a nostalgic who feels homesick all the time, or the careless type who only misses India on Diwali, I am sure you’ll find the following 15 tips interesting, especially if you have kids and want them to understand what Diwali is all about.

So, here are my favourite 15 things to do on Diwali when living abroad:

  1. Inner growth: Diwali is first and foremost a reconnection to one’s inner light, achieved by overcoming darkness. Make it a special time to reconnect, reconsider and make plans that will make the year to come shine.

  2. Preparation: in order not to feel too nostalgic about the way Diwali is celebrated back home, make Diwali become a big thing for your family. In the days preceding the big day, buy new clothes, buy candles, clean and decorate your home. On the day before, if you are a woman, apply mehndi on your hands and feet.

  3. Ambience: when you live abroad, you will likely not witness any of the “Diwali atmosphere” in the street, and most people around you won’t even know Diwali is coming. That is why it is important to create a special Diwali ambience inside your home. You can achieve that by just buying a few candles and decorations from an Indian shop, or you can spend more money and time on decoration, for example by buying on Etsy or doing things yourself. If you have kids, it would be nice to involve them in the project!

  4. Involve your children: the days before Diwali, you can explain your children why we celebrate Diwali. It will be an occasion for the whole family to refresh some good old knowledge.

  5. Mandir: on Diwali day, go to the temple and hold a home puja.

  6. Food: the night of Diwali you can prepare a special dinner and invite a few close friends. Before deciding what to cook, ask about Diwali dietary restrictions your guests might follow.

  7. Restaurant: if you work a lot, are tired, and prefer not to cook, visit your favourite Indian restaurant on Diwali.

  8. Firecrackers: that might not necessarily be a good idea, depending on where you live, but if you can fire a few crackers, it might be a nice way to feel close to home. For example, you are allowed to fire crackers for Diwali in Canada, but you need a special permission in the US, so make sure you are up to date with relevant regulations before attempting it.

  9. Party at the weekend: that’s when most Indians abroad really celebrate Diwali. If Diwali falls on a weekday, most people will be working and there’ll be no time and energy to celebrate. Just postpone it! At the weekend you can organize or attend a dinner party and dance to Indian music all night!

  10. Make it about togetherness: your family will likely not be around, so at least celebrate together with your close friends, that’s an important aspect of Diwali back home.

  11. Be proud of your culture: do not be afraid to show your non-Indian friends your Diwali traditions. Believe me, they’ll love them. Invite them for dinner, distribute sweets at work, and explain them what Diwali means.

  12. Join a Diwali event: if you are lucky enough, there will be other Indians living in your area, and if they are well organized, they will probably hold a Diwali event in town.

  13. Travel back home: this can be a tricky one because flights to India are expensive during Diwali, but it is worth going at least once to show your kids what the real stuff is!

  14. Watch some classics: feed the nostalgia by watching some Bollywood classics such as Mohabbatein, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or even Mother India.

  15. GIFTS: this is one of the most important aspects, whether you are celebrating Diwali in India or abroad. Your family and friends in India will be delighted to receive some Diwali gifts from you. Here are a few ideas:

  • Jewelry

  • Candles

  • Sweets, preferably a specialty of the country you live in

  • Greeting cards: physical greeting cards are valued more than emails, and they are even better if homemade

  • MONEY: it might be less romantic but let’s face it, that’s what your family will appreciate the most because anything else they can buy in India for cheaper. The good thing is that Ria Money Transfer has a special Diwali offer, so there’s no better time to send money home!

  • Last point is, do not forget to ask your family to send you some Indian sweets in exchange for your generosity, because you won’t find Diwali sweets as good as those made in India anywhere in the world!


Happy Diwali to all the NRI out there!

Priya Pellicini is a non resident Indian living in Spain. She is an editor at https://www.theindianrose.com, a website that focuses on sharing information regarding Indian culture and traditions. She can be contacted at priya@theindianrose.com.