Doesn’t it suck to be away from India during Diwali time?

Come any festival, and every Indian who lives abroad would tell you how badly they miss India…and this feeling would become even more pronounced during Deepavali time – That is the speciality of Deepavali! It is the only festival that is celebrated by almost all Indians, and one of the very few that is celebrated “outside” the house amongst family members, neighbors, friends and strangers. Joy shared is joy multiplied, so it’s no wonder this is the happiest time of the year for all Indians.

But wait…that is all true when you are in India. If you look at the Indians living abroad, the moment they come to know Diwali falls on a weekday, they would let out a big moan and go into a “wish-I-was-in-India” mode until Diwali ends. And their depression would be a little more evident, if they fall into either  “single person” or “very newly married” category :).

Ah Diwali – You make everyone wish they were in India at this time – there lies your beauty!

Well..if you are curious to know why Indians miss India soooo much during this time, read on and you will get your answers!

1. It all begins in the morning.

People living in India don’t have to look at a calendar to know Diwali is nearing. They know it’s Diwali week, when they hear fireworks on some street, somewhere, at odd times of the day. And when it is the D-day, it won’t come as a big surprise to them, to be woken up from their deep sleep, by a 1000 wala exhibiting its prowess. They get up with a smile plastered on their face, waiting to take out their Lakshmis and Bijilis and show their skills to their friends! You know it is Deepavali just by the sounds!

Meanwhile, people living abroad, most likely google or phone their moms, to know when Diwali is, so that they can “try” to celebrate it. Like this year, if it falls on a weekday, they do nothing but curse their stars and get on with their life until the D-day comes. And on the day of Deepavali, they are awoken with a sound too -the “Tringgg!!!” of their phone alarm, just like every other normal work day..There is nothing in the air, to show them it’s the biggest day of the year. So yeah, wake up and go grumbling to office, it is.

2. Dressing up.

Ah..the oil bath routine. Everyone takes oil bath on this day and deck themselves with splendid clothes! So every where you look, you can see people dressed in lovely, bright ethnic wears! With a twist and a turn, they go outside to burst crackers outside their house. And even if they don’t burst crackers, they might just go outside to showoff their lovely expensive outfit and gather compliments. That’s the fun of it!

People abroad, never forget the oil bath routine on Diwali. That is one step even a bachelor student dutifully does – probably the only thing in the morning time to remind themselves that it is Diwali that day. And if they work in a company where lots of Indians are present, many women dress up in their beautiful Anarkalis, and end up explaining to every single non-Indian the reason behind their exquisite Indian saree (any Indian wear is a saree to most of them). As for men, few wear kurtas, but majority wear their normal shirts, mostly new. And then..they go burst crackers..ha ha got you! Nope, they go work. Just like every other day.

3. “Happy Deepavali! Happy Diwali!”

When we are in India, at least part of our morning, would be spent wishing our friends and relatives “Happy Deepavali!”, either in person or over the phone. And of course, we wouldn’t end it there. We would love to wish every one we see, a neighbor, a shopwalla, a random person smiling at us – with a “Happy Diwali!”. Ah, the joy of wishing “Happy Diwali!” can only be experienced and can’t be stated in words.

And when you are abroad, you most likely would be phoning/Skyping in Diwali wishes when it’s evening or night time and when Diwali hasn’t yet begun for you. And all the time you are on the phone, you hear the sounds of fireworks in the background..Your blood starts to slowly boil and you hate yourself for being stuck in a weird part of the world that doesn’t celebrate this super awesome festival! If at that moment, God had miraculously appeared to grant you a wish, I’m sure you would cry out “Tickets to India, now, now, now!!”. And on the day of Diwali, you console yourself by wishing all your Indian friends in office and narrate the history of Diwali to all your non-Indian friends and make them wish you. Do tell me if I’m wrong!

4. Food! Food! Food! Food!

Diwali sweets..Diwali snacks..Diwali lunch..every food item related to Diwali is special! And definitely worth drooling! In India, people cook lots of sweets and snacks, share them with their families and friends. End result would be adults comparing recipe notes, and kids finding out what’s good in what house to go ask for later 🙂 But in all, Diwali is about making and sharing mouth watering food in India, which always includes Muruku (chakri).

Now people abroad always try to bring the essence of Diwali wherever they are. And since they couldn’t bring fireworks, they replicate the food in India during this time. So they try to cook as many snacks and sweets as they can..sometimes even more than people in India do! But this day would prove rewarding for all the single people who don’t cook, provided they are friends with a married Indian. You guessed it, their day would be filled with delicious goodies!

5. Dam Damaka TV shows!

Well..after some hours of fireworks fun, almost everyone in India would glue their eyes to their TV, surfing the channels for super special Diwali TV shows. There would be a brand new film in one channel, an awesome show in another, and an even better one in another! TV remotes would get their exercise today!

Well..if Diwali falls on a weekday, Indians abroad will be spending their day in office, surfing too. Surfing between work time and Facebook time, just like every other day. ;). And not everyone has satellite dishes in their homes, so they typically have to wait for the day to end to see the shows on their laptop, free of cost. But they will love the shows nevertheless and see them all, even if it goes through the night, so no complaints here!

6. Evening fun!

Fireworks are special the entire day on Diwali, but fireworks in the early morning and in the late evening, are definitely extra least I think so. People would be fresh in the morning and excited in the evening! All flowerpots (buswanams), sangu chakras, sparklers (mathapoo), would be lighting up the beautiful night sky for all to enjoy. In reality, if you ask me, lighting up fireworks is not the main reason which brings fun, it’s the togetherness time with friends and families that brings out laughter and smiles the entire day.

People abroad do enjoy “some” fireworks..probably sparklers. Some people do go to a Diwali mela, a place where Indians gather and have fun, and if you are lucky you can witness some fireworks there..but even then you won’t be the one lighting it. Someone else would be setting up a mechanical fireworks show, and everyone would look at the beautiful display of fireworks in the sky, sitting or standing quietly. It never comes close to the feeling of holding a sparkler in your hand and lighting up the firework yourself. The excitement of whether or not the fireworks would go off when the sparkler touches it..the crazy action of lighting it and running away immediately..the sounds of laughter all around you is all pure fun. Sigh. That is something everyone abroad would most definitely miss..and it can never be replaced by even the most spectacular Disney Fireworks show.

7. Diwali release!

Of course, Diwali release movies have to be seen on Diwali! No difference in this anywhere in the world!!

8. Family time.

This sums up Diwali when you are in India. Nothing beats the family fun time you experience there! For showing off your beautiful outfits or awesome firework lighting skill or doing a taste-test of miscellaneous food items or listening to the squeals of the young ones you need your family beside you to “ooh and aaah” at the right moment 🙂

When you are abroad, even if you wear your best dress possible, there won’t be many people who say they love your outfit on Diwali time. Well, yes if you are working with Indian friends everyone would be dressed up, so a little bit of give and take compliments exist, but in my opinion it can never beat the compliments you get from your family members.

Well. Diwali is always fun. It is the time when adults turn into least in India. It is hard living abroad on a normal day…but extremely hard living abroad on a super awesome day like Deepavali! Many tend to book tickets to come to India just to enjoy this day, where it can be truly enjoyed. More than fireworks, or sweets, or outfits, it’s the family time that I think everyone abroad misses during this time. This year I have my parents with me, so it might be a little more fun than usual!

For all Indians in India, have a safe and wonderful Deepavali! As for the rest of you people who are living away from India, let’s all try to enjoy the day with whoever is close to us, and have fun! It can never come close to the excitement of Deepavali in India…but then nothing comes close to India anytime. Now it’s time to call my guys in India and wish them! Probably should play a diwali track in the background to get into the mood…hmm..


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padhs2k Written by:

Another dream-chaser.


  1. Ramya
    October 22


    • padhs2k
      October 22

      Happy Deepavali Maams!! 😀 😀

  2. neelamegan
    October 22


    • padhs2k
      October 22

      Happy Deepavali Sush!! 😀

  3. Sravs
    November 2

    We need to choose either money or homeland, I chose money so I have no regrets. We cannot get both

    • padhs2k
      November 7

      Well, you are right, the choice is definitely ours. Ever wonder whether it is only money that is keeping you abroad or whether it is something else?

  4. November 23

    Oh Padma, such a well written post. We do get into “Wish I was in India mode ” but it does fade away, once we have get togethers n parties with friends for the occasion. The only wish thingy is that, kids do not get a feral of our culture n traditions like being home.

    • padhs2k
      November 27

      Thank you very much Sandhya! Loved to see your comments. And yeah, Diwali is only fun when you can celebrate if with a lot of people! I can only hope kids can enjoy the holidays of India and US, as it should be enjoyed..say what may, Diwali is always best celebrated in Diwali..but we can’t get the best of everything, so have to gulp in the negatives I guess..right?

Yes, go on, tell me what you think!