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Community members reveal how Diwali customs have changed for them over the years

by Aiden
Community Members

Are you doing Diwali your way?

By Amronrat Sidhu

Diwali, a truly significant celebration for the Indian diaspora, and specifically Hindus, needs no introduction. The warm yellows of the diyas melt into one another to illuminate the dark – like a subtle, but knowing, sun in the night. The mithais sweeten the tongue and soften the mood. The laughter of friends like family, and family like friends, envelop the chaos of the evening. Prayers connect the present to the past, the spiritual to the tangible. The feasting, the festivities, the fireworks; many of us look back on our childhoods and smile with nostalgia at how we celebrated Diwali.

While Diwali is mostly celebrated by Hindus, where prayers are ceremoniously held, many desi folk of other faiths also indulge in the celebrations, too. For Sikhs, the widely-believed overlap with Bandi Chor Diwas is a reason to rejoice, with gurudwara visits, family get-togethers and the launching of fireworks.

However, considering the changing times, how does the Thai-Indian community celebrate Diwali now? Laws, liberties, logistics, right and responsibilities – how have they impacted the way we celebrate Diwali? A few Thai-Indians share their views on the topic.

Nehal Bellani

Nehal Bellani, 33
Business Development Manager


When we were kids, Diwali was spent differently. We were friends with our neighbours, and all the kids would meet up to burst firecrackers and celebrate together. With time, our neighbours moved, we got older, and fireworks were banned, so our neighbourly celebrations just dissipated. Thus, our focus became more inward with immediate family. 


Diwali was always chill and lowkey with my family. The highlight was bursting firecrackers, and because we had neighbours to celebrate with, it was really the more the merrier. But now, we mostly stick to the rituals that we’ve always done: we adorn ourselves with Indian clothes, invite our guru over to do prayers, eat mithai that we’ve order in, and have a nice dinner.

Sumedha Sehgal, Designer

Sumedha Sehgal, 30


When we were kids, my grandfather would bring home a big bag full of fireworks that I would crack open with my brothers. Then, we would head over to our neighbours’ houses to play more. It was a fun time!


We still have a Diwali pooja every year at home. My mother hosts a Diwali party with friends where we wear Indian outfits, have Red Catering cater the food, and spend time with friends and family. It’s still a lot of fun! While I do miss playing with fireworks, I understand that it is also bad for the environment. I think we should think about how to replace this tradition with something equally enjoyable.

Ruchika Luthra Thakral

Ruchika Luthra Thakral, 34
Mum of Two and Insurance Broker


Diwali has always been fun because we get to light so many diyas, get together and enjoy ourselves which is really nice and beautiful. In school, we’d always look forward to Diwali because of the holidays and special treats. At that time, we burst a lot of firecrackers as well.


As we understand the importance of being eco-friendly, we don’t burst as many firecrackers like we used to anymore. We enjoy lighting diyas and making rangolis.

Today, it’s more about joining in the celebration and joy of the “Festival of Light”. As Sikhs, we don’t follow any traditional prayers or ceremonies as such, but I encourage my children to be aware of all festivals and their significance. In this case, the messages are that good will always win, there’s always light after darkness, and we should always keep hope and stay positive. We also highlight the significance of Bandi Chor Diwas, which is more relevant to our family.

Anchana Ekphaisansup

Anchana Ekphaisansup, 35
Full-time Mother and Freelance Web Designer


In my childhood, I remember my grandparents coming home with 6-8 big bags of firecrackers of all kinds for my cousins and me, which we delighted in lighting up all night. The entire neighbourhood would come alive and transform into a playground of festivity during Diwali. Watching the night sky come alive with fireworks remains a heartwarming memory. My grandmother would also make her special dessert, gajar halwa or seviya every Diwali – this is perhaps why I love gajar halwa until now!


With a growing consciousness of the impact of firecrackers on our air quality and beyond, we have transitioned to eco-friendly celebrations as a family. We opt for fewer crackers and, instead, engage in activities like crafting our own candles, painting diyas, and creating vibrant rangoli art using biodegradable elements like rice, flowers, and pulses and grains, often as a part of school assignments. This change not only instils creativity but also aligns with our commitment to a cleaner environment.

Moreover, thanks to the digital era, we can now watch animated Diwali tales together, ensuring children understand the origins of the traditions that define this festival. The mesmerising fireworks still hold a special place in our hearts, but today, it’s our responsibility to ensure a clean, safe aftermath. We make sure to clean up and separate toxic waste from chemical residue, contributing to a more sustainable celebration. Certain traditions have remained constant throughout the years. These include Diwali prayers, the tradition of decorating our homes with an assortment of candles and lights, and the delight of savouring the special Diwali feast and treats. As we approach another season of festivities, let’s remember and cherish our rich past, while also crafting memories that future generations will look back on with fondness.

Diwali Celebrations

Other Ways that Diwali Celebrations Have Evolved
(as told and observed by Thai-Indian community members)

The Rise of SMEs

With more women and men capitalizing on their talents and offering them to the community and wider public, it is commonplace now for community members on special occasions, such as Diwali, to offer their support and purchase from those they know rather than the dime-a-dozen other options available out there. Thus:

  • The Diwali dinner one hosts might have a dessert or dish that has been provided by a fellow community member – they may be a close personal friend, or simply someone recommended by word of mouth.
  • Some families offer Diwali gifts to friends and relatives, and these gifts might now be ordered from a fellow community member.

Tippy Tap, You’ll Get It in a Snap

Easy browsing, easier payment, thriving online exposure and accessibility, reliable payment services, and a plethora of and reliable delivery services with customisable options have spurred an inevitable rise in gifting within community members. It was not too long ago that it was normal to not receive tokens of celebration for a friend’s child’s first day of school, a ‘thinking of you’ gift unless it was from a partner, or even a ‘just because’ gift.

The accessibility of gift giving coupled with the celebration of gift giving through the ‘gram allows us to revel in the joyous moments and milestones in life, Diwali being one of them. 

Diet and Time

Now with more specific dietary requirements, youngsters are turning away from original mithai to gluten-free, lactose-free, anti-inflammatory options that satiate the palette and the tummy.

The relatively-younger crowd generally may not crave ‘original’ mithai, and when expected to make or order sweet treats for Diwali, the younger might opt for more Western delights that are easier to make, and even easier to order – tippy tap!


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