Every year at Diwali my family and I go and visit my aunts and uncles. We are lucky to have lots of family a short walk away. At each house we enjoy eating mitai (Indian sweets) and some savory snacks. We always return home feeling happy (and very full!).
On New Years Day – the day after Diwali – we go to the temple. Generally my family don’t have one set temple that we visit but for new year we always go to Neasden temple.
When you do the same thing each year it’s hard to imagine spending the day in any other way. But this year I celebrated Diwali abroad, something I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy.
Alex and I celebrated Diwali and new year in Las Palmas this year. Before we came here I had looked up the Indian restaurants (just in case I really felt like some Indian food that I couldn’t make) and the temples. I found a few restaurants but no temples. I usually look forward to Diwali but not this year. With no temples in the area and most of my family in London it was going to be a very different Diwali.
It turns out that different doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Alex might not be Hindu but he’s always been so interested in learning about Hinduism and is so respectful of our festivals and traditions. He made Diwali and new year really special, and it made me realise celebrating Diwali abroad doesn’t have to be so different to what I’m used to.
In our first week in Las Palmas we discovered Godhwanis, a shop selling all sorts of Indian food, including mitai.
Chatting to one of the owners at the shop led to us discovering there are 3 temples in Las Palmas! It seems not every organisation has a website here, with lots using Facebook almost like a substitute.
The closest temple is only open on Sundays so we couldn’t go on Diwali or new year, but it was so nice to know there is one close to us.
On Diwali we lit divas (candles) and ate Indian food for lunch and dinner. The mitai we bought from Godhwanis was some of the best mitai we’ve ever eaten!
As the fact that there are some temples here would suggest, there is a small Indian community here in Las Palmas. A Diwali event was held here at the weekend which we considered going to. In the end we didn’t go as it didn’t sound like an event we’d enjoy, but it was so nice to know there was something we could go to if we wanted to.
Want to learn about Diwali? Click here to read all about it on Wikipedia.