Op-Ed: Merry Diwali
By: Sonya Colattur
As summer turns to fall, I start to look forward to the holiday season. The rangoli in front of my house tells me that Diwali, or Deepavali as my father says, is here. A popular Hindu festival, Diwali/Deepavali is
the celebration of lights, when good triumphs over evil, and it is a time when family and friends gather for festive celebrations. This is one of my favorite holidays and is celebrated every year in my family, as is Christmas and the Fourth of July. Being biracial is just one part of who I am, for I also consider myself multicultural. In fact, for many biracial and multiracial people, race and culture are intertwined and hold equal space in their identity. That’s certainly true for me as I choose to fully embrace many of the traditions and practices of my father’s Indian culture, as well as equally enjoy many of the traditions and practices of my mother’s Irish and Swedish cultures.
Practicing cultural traditions within a family is one of the foundational activities of bonding and strengthens family relationships through the creation of memories. However, each family must determine which traditions to continue to practice or incorporate. When a family is multicultural, this requires thoughtful consideration and even some probable negotiation. When cultural traditions are compatible, shared similarities can be implemented into aligned practices, but if the cultures are vastly different, it may be a challenge to understand and incorporate. Therefore, it is important for multicultural families to find cultural similarities to relate to, discuss and respect cultural differences, identify and practice those cultural traditions that are uniquely important to each primary family member, and finally, manage the expectations of others, specifically extended family members, who may not understand the importance of equity and inclusion of cultures that are different from their own. This may require a lot of conversation, both listening and sharing, to inform and educate.
In my family, ladoos and Christmas cookies can closely overlap, as we enjoy both and wish each other and family and friends a Happy Diwali/Deepavali, and then weeks later wish those same family and
friends a Merry Christmas. Embracing my own multiculturalism holds me closer to those cultural ties that help me identify who I am, and makes me more open and curious about other cultures as well.
Furthermore, sharing one’s culture, or cultures, leads to greater appreciation and understanding within us all.
So this holiday season, I invite you to share your culture or cultures with others, as well as honor and respect the cultures of others. Be curious, listen and learn, and in the end, celebrate!
Merry Diwali to you all!