ON the back of a very bizarre year, I find myself feeling quite emotional this week as

I count down the days to a very auspicious festival for Indian people – Diwali.

The year has been a rollercoaster for us all where we have had to adapt to many “new normals.”

I gave birth in lockdown and for me this year has been bittersweet in that there have been many “missed firsts” for my baby. We couldn’t come together to celebrate the birth with loved ones, celebrate family birthdays and have missed out on many key events that matter.

A fortnight ago, I went over and above to try and recreate an exciting Hallowe’en for my seven-year-old. Trying to explain to little kids for why they can’t do things like trick or treating with friends is actually a lot harder than many think.

However we made the most of it by doing crafts at home, dressing up together and going pumpkins counting. Many lovely long-standing memories were made.

With Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas round the corner, trying to find the same enthusiasm has felt much more challenging.

Diwali is the biggest and most celebrated festival for Indian people. It is the Festival of Lights and new beginnings. Diwali signifies the victory of light over dark, of good over evil and of knowledge over ignorance. For various reasons, as I reflect in 2020, Diwali is even more special this year.

In our Indian communities, during this festival, we celebrate with family and friends. The preparations begin a week before with deep cleaning the homes and decorating them with colours and lights. We cook yummy Indian foods and pray together for a good year ahead. It’s a time for reflecting on the year gone, connecting with our purpose and setting resolutions for what we would like to happen for us next year.

This year is going to be different. This year the people who matter to us most can’t celebrate with us in the same way. It’s my daughter’s first Diwali and we will be celebrating it over Zoom.

Usually the elders in our families lead the prayers but this year, we have had to think outside the box of how it will work. I’m grateful that we live in an era where tech is available to enable us to remain connected so, for the purposes of our ceremonies, the grandparents will digitally be leading the way whilst we carry out the actions at our end! I am trying my best to find the funny side to it. I never thought I’d be hosting traditional prayer rituals and food tastings over the internet!

Once normality is restored at, I’m sure we’ll look back at this year with awe and wonder as to “that weird time when....”

This week we have had stories from the grandparents on FaceTime for my son and my parents have been dropping off the scrummy foods my mum has been making. We have gone over board with the decorations to give it that extra flair that’s missing.

This year, where there has been much misery and darkness, reflecting on Diwali has really helped me focus on the light. Millions of babies were born this year and I want to use this time to celebrate new life.

We now have hope for a vaccine so there looks to be some light at the end of this long dark tunnel. Having this quiet time, with no hustle and bustle is actually not a bad thing because there is much that we can be grateful for, first and foremost being healthy. I’m using this time to put energy into all that is positive, focusing on hope.

Ultimately I’ve come to peace with the fact that whilst it’s bittersweet times, my daughter will have a standout first Diwali. I will ensure my son remembers it with fond memories and we will enjoy it in a “new normal” way, praying that next year will be positively different for us all.

To all those celebrating this weekend, a huge happy Diwali from me to you.