Celebrating Holidays in a Multicultural Household – Anuja Mohla

Holiday season is truly the most wonderful time of the year. While most people would agree that the holiday season is magical, some may differ on when that magic begins. It may start around Navratri, Halloween, Diwali, or Christmas depending on which holiday you celebrate, and where you live. 

Growing up in Delhi, Diwali was my favorite holiday and it marked the beginning of the holiday season for me. I lived in an apartment complex so my friends, my sisters and I would start choreographing dance routines months in advance for the annual Diwali function. The distinct sound of fireworks being set off and the delicious scent of mithai would fill the air several weeks before Diwali. Leading up to the
auspicious event, we all focused on cleaning the house, prepping for Diwali puja, buying new clothes, and
exchanging gifts with loved ones. Finally, the much awaited day of Diwali arrived.  We spent the day with family praying for health and happiness for all as well as cooking a feast.  We ended the night by lighting diyas and setting off firecrackers.

However, once I immigrated to America, Diwali didn’t feel the same. My family lived in different parts of the world making it very difficult to spend time together.  Once I had my children, I began to enjoy the festivities of Diwali again.  I desire to practice similar traditions and rituals with them as I did while growing up.  We shop for new clothes, make fresh handmade mithai, exchange gifts with loved ones, decorate the house, make an Indian feast for dinner and pray together as a family.  Yet, I realized that all
of the excitement surrounding Diwali doesn’t come as naturally for my son living in America as it did for me while growing up in India. He starts noticing the orange and purple Halloween decorations before we
pull out our box of colorful Diwali decorations from the garage. He starts smelling the apple cider before the scent of fresh mithai fills the air. He gets excited for his Halloween costume before we get a chance to
pick out the Diwali kurta. He starts reading Halloween books at school before we start seeing Diwali books on sale.

While I am a Delhite at heart, my husband is an Indian born and raised in America. He loves Diwali but he loves his Halloween and Christmas holiday just as much, if not more. Even though we are both are Indians, we continue to raise our kids with a multicultural upbringing by celebrating both Indian and American
holidays. Usually, Diwali falls within 1-2 weeks after Halloween so my husband tends to decorate the house with his Halloween decorations.  Afterwards, we would take a few days to do a complete makeover and flip our house to a sparkling Indian household for Diwali. However, this year Diwali falls a week before Halloween which is what helped me realize the opportunity to incorporate them together so our kids can truly enjoy the entire month prior to both holidays by essentially celebrating them

This year we made the effort to take out our Diwali books and Halloween books together for our bedtime reading. We had my son help put up Diwali decorations inside the house and Halloween decorations outside the house. We added neutral lights to our outdoor space that would match Diwali, Halloween &  Christmas decorations. My husband bought some colorful Halloween stickies for the windows while I got a big box of colored powder to create a beautiful rangoli design on the porch. My husband got our Halloween costumes ready and I have the Diwali outfits covered. My husband picked up the candy bags while I started prepping to make some fresh mithai at home this week. These past few weeks helped me
realize the beauty of rangoli designs alongside the pumpkins on our porch instead of competing for that space. 

As we raise our kids in this multicultural world, I feel it is important for us as parents to show our kids the beauty in celebrating both Indian and American holidays together. I hope this year, you have found space in your home and your yard for both pumpkins and lights alongside rangoli and diyas to add some brightness to your holidays.

About Author

Anuja Mohla, DO, MBA is a physician turned author with her award winning debut book “Ek Naya Din.”  Born and raised in New Delhi (India), Anuja immigrated to America as a teenager. She found her passion for writing through her desire to empower her son to be multilingual. Anuja realized the challenge her generation faces in teaching children about their heritage. She founded ‘Apni heritage’ with the goal of creating multilingual products that will help young parents, like her, teach their native language to the next generation. In her spare time, she loves to cook, and build on her love for Bollywood via movies, music, and dance.

Below are her social media presence : 

Instagram : @apniheritage

In Picture – Anuja Mohla with her son

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