The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: The Diwali Season Is Here

There are many events on the Indian calendar. Every other day there seems to be an auspicious occasion that is marked with pomp and joy.

Not too long ago, we saw many Asians celebrate Eid and soon after that was Navratri, Dushera and now we have Diwali coming up on Tuesday.

I've never really celebrated any of these days. I don't know why though. As a child I know my parents would do something for Diwali. We'd go to relatives and friends' homes and give gifts and sweetmeats.

One Diwali Mum decided she'd had enough of giving sweetmeats and started ordering little cakes that were iced with Happy Diwali and some red fondant flowers that us kids absolutely adored.

Down the road I got married and that family didn't really celebrate anything so I guess when in Rome you do what the Romans do, and I stopped celebrating.

I've been separated for six years now but for some reason I have never found a reason to celebrate the day. I'm not even sure why I ought to be celebrating it so while I may not agree with splurging my hard money buying firecrackers, I will not disdain someone who wants to. I just feel I work too hard to waste, yes waste, my hard-earned money on firecrackers.

Another thing that I will not spend my money is on gambling. I work too hard to put every penny together to gamble it away. I'd rather buy myself a nice handbag or pair of shoes instead.

Coming back to Diwali, I asked a few kids what they thought the festival was all about. Basically they thought it's the Indian version of Christmas! I laughed and then wondered about this.

Surely if you celebrate this day within your family, with your children, surely you are going to take the time out to explain to them why you are celebrating, right? Apparently not! Kids think it's a day for eating, drinking, getting presents and if Mum or Dad allows it, a day off from school in the process.

Come on people! If you are going to celebrate this day, or any other for that matter, don't you think you should explain to your kids why it's being done?

Are they just blindly following you because you probably blindly followed your parents because that's how things were done back then? Kids these days are really very clever; they know and they want to know more.

Their exposure to media and so many other things is so much greater than what we were exposed to, so they're bound to be a few notches above us in that department than we ever were at that age.

If you are going to celebrate this day, that's wonderful for you. Do take the time out to explain to your kids why you are celebrating it, the significance of it.

It's not just about eating, drinking, presents and a day off from school. Imagine these children 20 years down the road as parents or professionals telling people they celebrate Diwali but have no idea why they do it.

Of course you can access information from Google or Wikipedia, but things taught by parents always tend to stay with children, even when your kids will have dentures and walk aided with sticks.

Prepare this generation to know what they believe in and why they do it, not just for the sake of it. This will also teach them tolerance for others' beliefs. I speak from experience.

Have a happy Diwali and if you are my neighbour and blow up some loud firecrackers, I'm calling the cops. You do know these annoying things have been banned! Light a diya (oil lamp) instead. Be safe and be happy.

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