The day of ‘Diwali’– the festival of lights is a national holiday for India. Even though it is primarily a Hindu festival, in India it is celebrated more or less by all religions. This year, Diwali was celebrated on October the 28th. I have come to like it very much, not only because of what it symbolizes, but also because of my experience of the festival. This holiday has “followed me” on my journey. I celebrated it last year in Durban, South Africa with one of the biggest Indian community outside India, and talked quite a lot about it while in India. To have a certain continuity (in a manner of saying) in my journey I decided to celebrate Diwali this year while being in Germany… “importing” a bit of Indian culture and at the same time becoming a promoter of it.
I very much like cultural encounters because they always imply a process of searching for similarities or contrasts which ends with an increased awareness about your own culture. A very good example in this sense is the Romanian way of receiving Valentine’s Day. Some started celebrating it, while some remembered a local similar festival called Dragobete, and started celebrating that. I must confess: until Saint Valentine showed up in town, I wasn’t even aware about Dragobete’s existence.
Far from debating the value of national culture or listing pros/cons of assuming new customs, the cultural exchange is happening whether we want it or not. The mobility of people, ideas, technology is increasing creating a global culture, where the notions like cultural identity need to be redefined in a broader context.
Coming back to Diwali, I want to complete the circle and “export” a spring festival celebrated in Romania, called Mărţişor which talks about beginning and renewal, just as Diwali. So prepare your read-white threads and wait for New Year to come, whenever you want it to come… October, December, March… 🙂