Di­wali Sparklers

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Hindustan Times - Brunch - - News - (As told to Ju­n­isha Dama)

“When friends would come over for a small Di­wali party at our house, my par­ents would force me to play the pi­ano. My go-to song was Phan­tom of the Opera”

As a child grow­ing up in the US, my mother used to make us clean ev­ery­thing be­fore Di­wali. She would say, “Laxmi won’t pro­vide any­thing if you don’t clean up.” I re­mem­ber loving how the house felt af­ter­wards. But my favourite part was per­haps putting up the plas­tic lights and fake can­dles and light­ing ev­ery­thing up. On Di­wali day, our In­dian friends would come over for a small party. Like most In­dian par­ents who love show­ing off their kids’ tal­ents to their friends, I too was forced to play the pi­ano. My go-to song was Phan­tom of the Op

era. Di­wali, when I was a kid, was epic. The last amaz­ing Di­wali that I had was when I was eight years old – be­fore my par­ents split up.

When it comes to my style, peo­ple usu­ally as­so­ciate me with leather and stripes. But when it comes to In­dian clothes, I’m not the most quirky. I love tra­di­tional In­dian clothes, they’re beau­ti­ful. This is my first photo-shoot in tra­di­tional wear; I’m wear­ing a clas­sic In­dian lehenga choli by Anita Don­gre, which I plan to wear this Di­wali. While grow­ing up, it was like magic for me to see In­dian women dressed in tra­di­tional at­tire that was clas­sic-look­ing yet so very fash­ion­able. I have a sim­ple black sari with Kash­miri em­broi­dery; I would like to wear it at one of the par­ties this Di­wali. I like tra­di­tional sil­hou­ettes, but I hardly get the chance to wear them.

If I were to throw a Di­wali party, I would play Bol­ly­wood mu­sic from be­fore 1995, which was re­ally, re­ally good. Clas­sic Hindi songs are so much fun and you can sing along with them.

I was raised as a Hindu, my grand­fa­ther was a Brah­min. But now I be­lieve in a higher power and not in any re­li­gion. I’ve found a gu­ruji in Cal­i­for­nia who re­ally speaks to me. The more I learn about the way the fes­ti­val oc­curs as­tro­log­i­cally at this time and why we cel­e­brate it, the more I be­lieve in Di­wali. There is some­thing aus­pi­cious about the day and time. So now, I take it more se­ri­ously than I did be­fore.

I try to cre­ate my own Di­wali tra­di­tions, and I cel­e­brate it in a way that works for me.

Mu­si­cian and ac­tress Mon­ica Do­gra, dressed like she would on Di­wali day

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