Hyderabad, the fourth-largest city in India, is about to burst with color and light. It’s Diwali time, and this melting pot of languages, religions, and cultures is brimming with colorful customs.
This is where Pranay Siri, a business intelligence analyst here at Ria, grew up. After seven years living, studying, and working in America, he’s back home in Southern India. He arrived just time to join his family’s traditional Diwali celebration for the first time in a very long time.
Celebrating Diwali from in the US
When Pranay was living in the US, he did his best to make himself feel at home during the Diwali season.
While getting his master’s degree in Management Information Systems from Texas Tech University, he joined an Indian student community that held a Diwali celebration for its members and other students. It wasn’t nearly as elaborate as the one back home, but it helped him connect with both his fellow Indian students and others interested in the festival.
He explains: “All of us got dressed in our Indian clothes to go to this festival. We had friends from lots of religions who used to meet us there as well. That’s the thing about Diwali: anyone who’s ready or willing to celebrate is welcome. It doesn’t matter if you are Hindu or not. It’s all about food, family, and fireworks, and anyone who’s interested in that can definitely celebrate.”
Diwali in India, then and now
For Pranay, there are some things about Diwali that never change, no matter how long it’s been since he’s been home.
He explains: “Early in the morning, we wake up and begin with the oil bath, and we continue the rituals throughout the night. We put 108 coins around the idol of the goddess Lakshmi, say the mantras, do the puja, and, once that’s done, we start lighting up all the lamps.”
Just like Mukesh, fireworks and the lighting of lamps was Pranay and his cousins’ favorite Diwali activities as kids. As he has grown up, however, his focus shifted to something entirely different.
“Oh, it’s all about food now,” he jokes. “We don’t cook meat on Diwali, so it’s all vegetarian dishes.”
Typically, the menu is:
Breakfast – Poori with potato curry and dal followed by kheer.
Lunch – Tamarind fried rice served with tomato curry and spicy potato fry, along with white rice, sambar and curd chutney. Of course, lunch is incomplete without sweets, so a variety of specialty Diwali sweets are bought from shops.
Dinner – Chapathi (roti) with potato curry or any other vegetable curry, like eggplant and wada made of flour, served with hot sambar. Oh, and sweets.
Food and fireworks aside, for Pranay, family is what Diwali is all about. This is the first time in seven years that Pranay will be celebrating with his family. Since coming back, he’s realized how much he’s missed being in India.
“Homemade food, funny evenings with family and friends, shopping – the list of things I’ve missed is endless,” he notes.
Usually, he and his family would gather with many family members and friends, but they are limiting it to a small amount this year.
Light up their life, no matter where you are
As Pranay and his family gather for Diwali, so will others all across Hyderabad and the world. And while they may call other countries home, speak different languages, or carry their own beliefs, the spirit of Diwali will always be there to light up their lives.
If you don’t get to celebrate with family like Pranay, we have online money transfer promotions you can use to make Diwali extra sweet. Make sure to check out our Diwali promotions!
From us to you, happy Diwali!