The festival of lights!
As one of the most revered Indian celebrations, Diwali, which comes every fall, marks both the lunar new year and the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.”
Celebrated all over the world, it’s a holiday that is recognized by many faiths, including Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists.
Q&A with AAHOA Chair Vinay Patel and Tina Patel
WHAT DOES THE HOLIDAY MEAN TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?
For our family, it means a holiday to spend time with loved ones as well as a chance to embrace our rich culture and traditions. Diwali also marks the start of a new year, so it symbolizes a new beginning and a chance to set the right tone for the coming year.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART/ASPECT OF DIWALI?
There are so many things to love about Diwali that you can’t pick just one! However, our family loves all the fireworks and lights and celebrations with friends and relatives. We love how several holidays and rituals all happen around the same time of the year, such as Navratri, allowing us to further embrace our culture and giving us more opportunities to spend time with family and our local Indian community.
HOW DOES YOUR FAMILY CELEBRATE?
We celebrate in several ways. One way we celebrate is through all the color and decoration. We put lights, diyas, and candles all over our house and our creativity comes out through the rangoli we create on the floor of our home. Let’s just say we kind of go crazy with all the arts and crafts surrounding Diwali! It is so beautiful. And, of course, we enjoy lots of sweets and delicious food made by our friends and family. Such a fun time!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE INDIAN SWEET/DESSERT TO SERVE FOR DIWALI CELEBRATIONS?
We love them all! Rasmalai, mohanthal, mysore pak, gulab Jamun, the list goes on and on. Vinay and our son Jai’s favorite is carrot halwa topped with vanilla ice cream! We wish our entire AAHOA family a happy and safe Diwali and a prosperous new year!
“We wish our entire AAHOA family a happy and safe Diwali and a prosperous new year!Diwali is more than a festival, it’s a celebration. A celebration of what life has given us and cherishing each and every moment. This year, our family will be celebrating the birth of our beautiful Baby Z, a few months ago. For us, Diwali is about looking back at the entire year and being thankful. Before our family immigrated from India in 2004, my favorite part was the fireworks. Even today, I still cherish those moments. Going with my parents to the fireworks shop is something I’ll never forget.”
– Nishant (Neal) Patel, CHO, Vice Chairman
“Diwali means the triumph of light over darkness and that is why we light deevos inside our homes and hearts. We should forgive and forget past transgressions and welcome everyone with open arms. It means light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. Widely observed among more than a billion people from a variety of faiths across India and its diaspora, the five days of Diwali are marked by prayer, feasts, fireworks, and giving to the less fortunate and charities.”
– Bharat Patel, CHO, CHIA, Treasurer
“My favorite aspect of Diwali is coming together and remembering what we are thankful for and reflecting on the chance to start over and reset ourselves each year. The one family tradition that I honor each year is calling and messaging family and friends throughout the day to wish them a Happy Diwali. This is one tradition that was taught to me by my family at a very young age and it will not change. No celebration in India is complete without sweets and it’s the highlight of every celebration. My favorite desserts to serve are Halwa, Kaju Katli, Barfis, and Ladoos.”
– Miraj S. Patel, MBA, CHO, CHIA, Secretary
“We celebrate with 10 days of festivities, special bonding with siblings, the wearing of new clothes, colorful decorations, lighting up candles, and making a difference in each other’s lives. So, for me, there is a deep meaning of love, care, respect, honor, responsibility, and celebration.”
– Naresh (ND) Bhakta, Greater Los Angeles Area Regional Director
“It’s a time when we can slow down and appreciate each other. With our busy lifestyles, we often forget to cherish the little things and people in our lives.”
– Sanjay M. Patel, Alabama Regional Director
“Traditionally, either I or one of my siblings will invite everyone over for a dinner celebration. It’s a time of gathering and appreciating your loved ones.”
– Dharmesh Ahir, Southwest Regional Director
“Diwali is the celebration of the year, giving back to others, and wishing family and friends a prosperous and joyful year.”
– Dhiren Masters, CHO, North Texas Regional Director
“Diwali is the celebration of the triumph of good over evil as represented in the story of Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana. Diwali reminds us that no matter how difficult things might seem, the good will always win in the end. Namaste, Happy Diwali, and I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.”
– Rahul Patel, Florida Regional Director
“This holiday means spending quality time with my wife and daughters. We have always been together on Diwali.”
– Sandip Patel, Washington DC Area Regional Director
“The Diwali holiday is so important to our family. Every year, we make it a priority to spend the holiday together. Decorating the house with lights brings a nostalgic feeling to me that I love sharing with my children and grandchildren. I love that Diwali will be celebrated for generations to come.”
– Mahendra (MZ) Patel, Mid Atlantic Regional Director