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Note: This episode published a day early so it could be in time for Hallowe’en even though it’s focused primarily on Diwali. As time goes on I’m going to continue to try to rush themed episodes to you in time for the appropriate dates but may not always be able to do this.  Hey Intimates. I wanted to do a Hallowe’en episode because it’s such a popular holiday and I’ve been challenging myself to create and release special episodes around festivals or holidays. It turned into a Diwali episode because despite being descended from a half Roman Catholic family, I have been far more interested in my Indian heritage recently. This year, I’m celebrating both dates.

Before getting into the Indian celebration, I do my best to explain and do justice to Allhallowtide, a three day festival where Hallows Evening or Hallowe’en is just one part on October 31 involving a vigil for the Catholic saints in heaven (hallows is synonymous with saints).

Irene joins me today as an Indo Canadian woman who hasn’t lived in India like I have, but who has in my opinion had a far more traditional Indian upbringing as I haven’t. Our different perspectives as parts of the Indian diaspora hopefully offer one incomplete and imperfect portrait of folks grappling with culture and community in a very Canadian way: perhaps slightly distanced from it for likely different reasons, balancing different ideas of what it means to be from a place, and practicing culture as a form of identity.

If you want to learn more, feel free to wikipedia Diwali and the Ramayana or throw it into google and check out some of the awesome images of this Indian Festival of Lights. I wish you a Happy Diwali, and many cozy Autumn evenings with family and friends. Enjoy the episode, Intimates.

1. Can you give a brief explanation of what Diwali is about in three sentences or less?

2. Could you explain to folks who don’t already know: what is the Ramayana about? [Itihasa]

3. How many days long is Diwali?

4. What sorts of rituals do you take part in over Diwali (do you do any rangoli, pujas to Lakshmi)?

5. Are you aware of any other variations of Diwali rituals that you don’t participate in?

6. Who celebrates Diwali with you?

7. Does Diwali build a sense of community for you?

8. Do you relate your experience of Diwali to hope in the context of colder, literally darker days?

9. Do you draw strength in your identity from your culture as an Indian?

10. How does your sense of Indian culture relate to mental wellness in your experience?