A Message to My People on Diwali

Don’t worry. This is not a rant.

For as long as I can remember, I never cared about Diwali. To me, it was always a Hindu festival and I wasn’t interested in celebrating the return of King Rama after a heroic victory against Ravana. As a Sikh, I felt like I never related to that story and if I’m being honest, I still don’t. I am not sure how many people truly think about this story of Rama vs Ravana when they celebrate Diwali today because when I look at my Instagram every Diwali, it’s photos of ladies decked up in the most glamorous and shiniest clothes, men decked up in traditional clothing and pulling it off amazingly well, kids playing with sparklers, and adults gambling (how is this a Diwali tradition?!) and waiting until half past ten in the night to start drinking alcohol because India is an hour and a half ahead of us and if it’s midnight in India then technically Diwali is over and we can resume our normal drunken ways.

Decked up in traditional wear to mark the Diwali season

I don’t know why I was a boring child but without knowing the story of a festival I could never enjoy it. The same thing happened with Holi, the festival of colours. It is meant to celebrate the legend of Holika- but she makes no appearance in Sikh scriptures, so why am I putting on my ugliest clothes and throwing colour on my siblings?

It was only when I went away to University and spent some time with my Sikh friends that I discovered why my people celebrate Diwali. We don’t even call it Diwali, we call it Bandi Chhor Divas. ‘Band Chhor’ translates to Release of the Prisoners; the day marks the release of Guru Hargobind Singh from prison where He was captured by the Mughal emperor Jahangir. The Guru took 52 other Hindu kings along with him by having them hold onto his robe and Sikhs celebrate this by praying at the Gurdwara and spending time with their families. With this new found knowledge I was happy to celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas and since then I have never been not interested in celebrating ‘Diwali’.

I just wanted to use this blog to spread awareness about why Diwali/Bandi Chhor Divas is a thing. As a blogger with so many followers (I have legit 10 followers), it is my duty to share the truth. Have some kind of faith in why you are celebrating what you celebrate.

This is not to say I don’t have double standards when I celebrate Christmas and Halloween. Halloween was my favourite holiday while I was in University- not because I enjoyed remembering the departed, but because Chipotle would give you burritos for £1 if you wore a Halloween costume. Christmas remains my most favourite time of the year not because I have a special connection with Lord Baby Jesus but because every year I get an excuse to throw a party in my backyard in December when the weather is amazing in Dubai.

My Annual Christmas party where legit only one Christian person showed up. Everybody else was there for the cake and wine.

So on this day I have one message for my many, many followers (seriously, 10 is a very low number, you guys)- Happy Bandi Chhor Divas/Diwali :)



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Amandeep Ahuja

Amandeep Ahuja is the Author of ‘The Frustrated Women’s Club’. Buy a copy here: https://linktr.ee/amandeepahuja