This past week was Diwali. Since this was to be a Diwali in lockdown, my husband and I weren’t expecting much. We had bought a few packets of sweets from the Indian store to give to our neighbours and had thought of putting the boxes in paper bags and leaving them outside their doors.
Apart from that, we had a string of fairy lights for the living room and the study and a stack of tea lights and two bouquets of flowers.
The night before Diwali, I could hear my neighbours’ voices and I opened the door to our apartment. (We have three apartments on our floor). I thought that since they were outside in the hallway, I could hand over the packet of sweets to them right away and it would save me the trouble of knocking on their doors or leaving a note.
As I opened the door, I saw that they had put up fairy lights on their door and on the door of our other neighbour’s flat. They had another string of lights in their hands and turned to me and said, ‘These are for your apartment entrance. We know it is Diwali tomorrow and we are going to celebrate it with you.”
I was stunned and before I could tell them about the sweets that I had got for them, they handed me three boxes of Indian sweets – motichoor ladoos, kaju katli and gulab jamuns.
Both our neighbours are Irish. However from the way all the three apartment entrances were adorned with fairy lights and tea lights (in glass containers), you couldn’t tell which flat played home to an Indian couple and which to an Irish family.
On Diwali evening, I opened the door of our apartment to put in a tea light in a lantern that I had also placed outside. As I did so, I found a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolate laid out in the front of our door.
It said, “Wish you a bright and prosperous Diwali from all on level 2…”
The husband and I thought how wonderful it was to have someone celebrate our festival with us, and how beautiful and thoughtful it was on the part of our neighbours to do what they did. Perhaps this is also what inclusion feels like?
A couple of photographs from our apartment – tiny touches here and there to bring in Diwali.