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“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