The world is a big, fast-paced, vibrant piece of chaos. The beauty of it is that it never stops. Halts are necessary to make memories. Vivid memories are often formed in our place of comfort, the most obvious, the most frequented: one’s home. Who explained the pleasant magic of home better than Robert Southey when he said: “There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits.”

However, for most people, it’s not always destined to be close to what they call “a home, a family.” Students, professionals, businessmen, travelers, army persons, and many more such people spend most of the time of their year/life away from home and family in the continuum of contributing to society. One such example is the vast collective of the South Asian Community based in America that spends most of its time away from its real home, real family and friends.

And amidst the blur, as we think of memories, we realize that truly, only the good ones stick. It’s the good ones that turn out to pour a glass of nostalgia, melancholy, and ‘saudade’ down one’s throat. The time of festival, frolic, and the gaiety togetherness is what people away from home miss the most. For the South Asian community, spending Diwali or another festival away from the true spirit of the festival, as celebrated in the Indian Subcontinent can be painful for many and it triggers the feeling of longing like missing the smell of the bright shining diyas, the smell of firecrackers, the taste of Indian sweets, and so on.

While being away from home, nothing shouts ‘pure bliss’ other than meeting family and friends, eating homemade sweetmeats, decorating your home, buying new clothes, social get-togethers, and a homely celebration of the most delightful festival. Not getting to celebrate Diwali – one’s homeland festival can result in feelings of longing and loneliness

Celebrating a festival in your homeland has its package of a friendly/homely atmosphere which is automatically created. While being in a foreign country calls for creating such an atmosphere by yourself with people who can be particularly difficult and at times disappointing too. This happens especially with the South Asian communities in remote areas which are not well-populated with their community.

To combat the emotional distress during the holidays, it might help to strengthen the bond of the South Asian Community in America, to come together, to take small steps towards a sense of community and belonging, to improve communication by staying in touch and taking the initiative to celebrate small-big festivals together like family, and to always remember that one can have a ‘home’ away from ‘home’ which may not be the same thing but the joy that can be created from this bond is something to look forward to, both emotionally and mentally.

by Hritika Ahuja
SAMHIN volunteer