Deepavali transcends borders, and even foreigners have embraced this festival with vigour. From shopping for traditional costumes to buying mithais and pattasu for friends, the expat community in Chennai is all set to celebrate. They join the locals in celebrations and participate in all the cultural activities organised in the city. Every Indian festival has become extremely special to the foreign community, especially since most of them have been in the city for several years. They tell us how they’ll be celebrating this year.
Nasrin Karimi, Café owner:
There will be a lot of private parties during Deepavali at the cafe. This year is no different. We’ll be having many functions today and tomorrow. I too join in with them for the celebrations. That said, being a hotelier, I will be busy attending to my guests. I have a lot of good friends in the neighbourhood, who bring savouries. We burst crackers. The street where I live will be completely lit up and it’s a visual treat for everyone. We decorate the cafe with lights too. I’m also planning to make a special Baklava this time.
Christopher Serna, Consultant:
A few of my friends from New York will be coming down to India. So, I’ve decided to celebrate the festival with them in Delhi. I’ll be travelling to the capital to be with them. My friends in Delhi have agreed to take us around the city to watch the celebrations. Though I’ve been in India only for the past few years, what I’ve heard is that the celebrations in the north are grander than that in the south. I am looking forward to witness some firecrackers in Delhi. Also, we’ve planned a trip to Rajasthan. With all the festivities around, I hope to have a nice time there.
I haven’t finalised my Deepavali outfits. I might go shopping with my friends too.
Jessica Seddon, Adjunct faculty:
We are celebrating a triple holiday this weekend — between birthdays, Deepavali and Halloween — and it’ll be crazy and fun-filled. The celebrations will be with my close family and friends. Though there are no big parties, there’ll definitely be small parties over the weekend. Living in the city for the past nine years, we all are very much used to the Tamil culture. My family loves sparklers and have got some of them to light today. Since Halloween is on October 31, I am planning to bake some special Halloween-themed cookies. My son Cyrus Seddon Wallack has holidays now and is looking forward to the weekend. I am excited to spend our ninth Deepavali with friends in the city.
Shannon Zirkle, Photographer:
This is one of the festivals I always look forward to in India. Being a photographer, usually during any festival, I am working. But this year, I have decided to celebrate the festival in a proper way. A few of my friends have invited me to their place to join them for the celebrations. There will be two Deepavali parties — one is a traditional themed one and the other will be in Indo-Western style. I‘ve picked up dresses for the parties too — they will mostly be kurtas and crop top-palazzo-dupatta combinations. Even though I want to take a break from my work, the beautiful light decorations attract me. I’ll be clicking pictures of the beautifully-decorated city and will make it a photo series. My husband Rohan will be back in town for the celebrations and am eagerly looking forward to all the madness! I am not a sweet lover, but will gorge on kaju barfi and almond butter barfi.