Diwali is celebrated first by the South Indians and the next day by North Indians. The customary greeting is “Happy Diwali or Happy Deepavali”, with hands held together and palms facing each other. The third day is Gujarati New Year and the customary greeting is “Sal Mubarak”
Diwali was so much fun when I was a kid growing up in Lenasia, Johannesburg. Celebrations spanned the entire community and flowed out of warm homes into the neighbouring street. The making of rangolis was near impossible as friends and family visited for a snack and to chat. A rangoli is an a elaborate pattern made on the floor outside the entrance to the home using pigment and rice flour.
South Indian Oil Bath
I least like the oil bath. Mum would apply a mix of 3 oils to our crowns to cool our heads. It was the source of endless irritation: oily hair on Diwali Day, while dressed up like a princess!!!
4 drops of neem oil, 1 tsp castor oil, 1 tablespoon of either sesame seed or coconut oil
Heat oils on low heat, remove before it smokes. Allow to cool and massage the top of the scalp just enough for your scalp. Wash hair the next morning
An older sister or friend would decorate our hands with mendhi (henna). We would then slip our mendhied hands into gloves, plastic packets or socks and declare that there was nothing more we could do to help until morning! When the gloves were removed, and the mendhi washed off, the colour would deepen into a rich coppery brown like the INDIKAAP logo!
The Gujerati language has the perfect word for fire-works which well describes the sound of tom-thumbs (a pack of little fire-works that when lit bursts in a series of short ‘twaks’): ‘fatakra’ in staccato fa-ta-kra!! Growing up everyone would gather in the streets and burst fireworks together, marvelling at the fantastic light displays.
Fire-works are a big part of the way Diwali is celebrated. However, with changes in social values and racial integration in S.A., the bursting of fireworks has receded. In most communities with a large Hindu community an organised fire-works display is arranged with City officials and sponsors. This to a degree ensures the safety and control of fire-works and respect for other cultures and our furry friends and the environment.