Celebrating Diwali: Connecting with family and friends long distance in 2020

India By Ginger Staples Oct 20, 2020

November 14 this year brings a Diwali unlike any in recent memory. With its lights, ornate clothing and elaborate decorations, Diwali traditionally brings family and friends together, gathered to enjoy five days of food, drink, and the company of their loved ones.

In the age of COVID, however, many families are facing a Diwali when they can’t be together. What happens then? Indians living abroad may be left feeling separated from the traditions and Diwali customs they’ve known their entire lives.

Despite the pandemic, it is still possible for family members to connect in a meaningful way and celebrate this cherished holiday—away from their home country.

Here are several options for helping bridge the gap and bringing you that sense of belonging, even when you can’t be there.

Connect with loved ones digitally

While voice calls, video chatting and text messaging might be the obvious choice for connecting long distance, consider using social apps to connect. Text messaging and voice calls are often expensive, but these apps provide free or low-cost solutions to making phone calls.

Another great benefit to using these apps is the simplicity it brings for large families to connect. Now instead of contacting loved ones one at a time, video chatting with multiple people gives large families better methods for sharing in the celebration. Find apps that work well with both Android and Apple devices to ensure everyone can connect easily.

Send a Diwali Gift to show your support

When loved ones are not able to come together during Diwali, a gift of support to family members can make all the difference. While purchasing a gift and shipping it abroad might be meaningful, the costs of shipping and the time it takes to arrive may not be the best choice.

One great alternative to shipping a gift is to send cash directly to loved ones. A monetary gift shows that you care and that you are committed to celebrating Diwali while you are away. In addition, a cash gift to a family member can help them purchase new clothing, food and decorations to prepare for the celebration.

An easy, and convenient  way to send cash is through a money transfer service like Western Union. The online tools and mobile app are easy to use and can provide quick transfers to major banks like State Bank of India, HDFC, ICICI and others. Or, your recipient can pick up the rupees at one of the 121,000 locations in India, making your money transfer easy for loved ones to receive your cash gift.

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Locate a Diwali celebration near you

Diwali is celebrated all over the world, making it relatively simple to find others in your community who can relate to you. While every family and community may differ in how they celebrate, developing new friendships and learning about other customs can bring fresh new meaning to your experience.

Seek out local events or groups that celebrate Diwali and find ways to get involved with local Diwali customs. Community websites, Facebook groups and local event calendars are a great way to begin finding connections with people in your area—and how they are celebrating this year, safely and in accordance with local requirements.

A new approach to celebrating Diwali

While connecting with family and friends in person during Diwali might be the ideal way to celebrate, adapting a different approach can help you feel more connected when you can’t be there. By connecting with family over digital networks, sending gifts to loved ones and embracing new friendships, the importance of Diwali and the gratitude you share for others can live on in a way that has new meaning.

Want to learn more about Diwali? Check out this article to learn more about what Diwali is, why its celebrated and its history and culture.