As I prepare to make a rangoli outside my apartment to welcome in the New Year tomorrow, I remember a Diwali from three years ago that I will never forget.
Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarakh!
It was Diwali. During the five days, women draw beautiful images outside their homes with coloured sand, rice and grains (called rangolis) to decorate their homes and welcome the new year and visitors.
Over the few months that I had spent volunteering, I continually was awed from the wonderful rangolis that a colleague of mine created for various occasions. His work always brighten the space they are in and the people that see them. Inspired by their beauty, I decided try my hand at rangolis. These beautiful works of art would be a wonderful way to express my gratitude to the many people who have showered me with their love and affection. As is the experience of many NRI volunteers in India, I felt humbled and immensely indebted to the many caring souls that went out of their way to make me feel at home in Ahmedabad, a place miles away from my birthplace in North America.
Arming myself with bags of coloured sand, I first practiced outside the volunteer home where I was staying. After a few tries, I felt confident in my work. As I made my way from home to home, I could not contain my cheer. As I spread the sand, I silently gave my thanks to each individual and prayed that the new year brought new hope and prosperity to each. At every home, the children would crowd around welcoming me with their smiles and watching intently as each rangoli unfolded. Each then added their own touch to the final piece and we created a colourful display full of love and good wishes.
Such a simple thing brought so much joy to all. The small grains of sand became colours of light and were the perfect way to celebrate Diwali and welcome the new year.