'I'm celebrating Diwali hundreds of miles from home - it never gets easy'

-Credit: (Image: Yashaswi Kochar)
-Credit: (Image: Yashaswi Kochar)

Diwali is one of the major Hindu festivals celebrated by Indians all over the world. I am from India and every Diwali I used to go to my grandparents' city which is an overnight journey from my city. All my uncles, aunties and cousins residing in various parts of India used to come together under the same roof to celebrate.

I remember dad booking the Diwali train tickets at least two months prior to Diwali because everything used to get booked if we waited until the last minute and we would get no reservations. I have been in Cardiff since 2021, I thought it was tough because it was my first year here. That year, I attended the puja via a Zoom meeting while sitting in the library and finishing off my assignment.

It is 2023. I am no longer a student and I have been living alone for the past two years now and I feel more homesick than ever especially during Diwali because all my family is together. While I sit here and write about Diwali, they are going out to pray together, eat varieties of delicious food and do loads of shopping. I am tearing up here.

This is the festival where everyone comes home, in fact they run towards it. It is not just a festival, it is a feeling for me. There are various things I miss but what I miss the most is putting Henna on my hands along with my grandmother and getting ready for the puja and the feast that comes up later.

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Early in the morning we would have our breakfast and then each and every family member used to contribute to making snacks and savouries for the festival. Making Gujiya for Diwali causes tears to roll down my cheeks."

I am not a student anymore and have been here for two years. This is my third Diwali away from home, it never gets easy. The feeling is mutually shared by other students as well. For the latest Cardiff news, sign up to our newsletter here

Aashi Dhabalia, a student at Cardiff University, says: “It's a bittersweet feeling being away from home right now. Although I'm excited, I can't help but feel a little sad since Diwali, one of the most important festivals for us, is just around the corner.

University student Aashi said: “I miss my family more than ever on this special day." -Credit:Aashi Dhabalia
University student Aashi said: “I miss my family more than ever on this special day." -Credit:Aashi Dhabalia

“I miss my family more than ever on this special day. However, I'm fortunate to have some amazing friends who make me feel like I'm home. I'm looking forward to celebrating my favourite festival with them,” she added.

This Diwali, we plan to make it as homely as possible, so we can all feel less homesick during this time of year. We're planning to meet and make some fantastic traditional Indian food together. We'll all wear our traditional clothes and get ready to celebrate the best time of the year.

“We are planning to go to the temple to seek blessings, come back home and play some cards, burst some crackers, and light up diyas in our rooms,” says Aashi. "I miss the lights, meeting all my cousins and family, having good food, and so much more. However, I'm looking forward to making new memories and enjoying this special time with my friends."

Vishnu Ramesh, a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said: “This is my first year in Cardiff so I am pretty excited to celebrate Diwali here. Our university has an event planned which includes a puja ceremony, fashion show, dance and food. I am excited to be a part of it and make the best of what I got here.”

This is Vishnu's first year in Cardiff -Credit:Vishnu Ramesh
This is Vishnu's first year in Cardiff -Credit:Vishnu Ramesh
Ansh is planning on celebrating with friends -Credit:Ansh Sonchhatra
Ansh is planning on celebrating with friends -Credit:Ansh Sonchhatra

“My friends are planning to wear traditional clothes and we also planned to prepare some foods and sweets for the university and distribute those in the university,” added Vishnu.

“I miss my home because this is like a celebration, like a gala. Family, friends and relatives all come by to wish each other and exchange gifts. To be honest I will miss receiving the gifts also from everyone,” said Vishnu.

“Diwali is about loads of fire crackers. Back in India I would be lighting so many beautiful fireworks. But it is not allowed in Cardiff so I am going to miss it here,” says Vishnu.

Ansh Sonchhatra, studying BSc Finance and Accounting at Cardiff University, says: “Celebrating Diwali in Cardiff will be a new experience for me as the last time I was here, I didn't go anywhere as I was new to the city and didn’t know much about Cardiff. I am honestly feeling pretty homesick celebrating Diwali here in Cardiff.”

“I am planning to celebrate diwali by just having a gathering of friends, making some sweets and enjoying them and also by wearing traditional clothes,” Ansh added.

“I miss being back in my home attending the puja rituals with my family, welcoming guests, bursting crackers and staying up till late in the night and playing cards with my family. But the thing I miss the most is the puja ritual.”

“Every year I visit temple back home and this year too I will make sure that I do the same. I will be missing my friends and family but at least god is here,”Ansh said.