Over the last few days, Powai resident Sahar D'souza's family has been busy preparing sweets; shopping for new clothes and decorations for Diwali. The Christian family has been celebrating the festival for the last five years.
"Since many of our relatives celebrate the festival here, we decided to do the same," said D'souza, 19. "My friends and I burst firecrackers and share gifts and sweets during Diwali. Karanjees and shankarpallis that we make for Diwali are my favourite," she said. The family also makes a rangoli in their house during Diwali and lights diyas and lanterns through the festival.
Diwali is popular among several communities in the city for whom lights and firecrackers have become the means for inter-community bonding. "Diwali is a time to meet friends and I invite relatives and friends to my farmhouse in Nashik where we celebrate the festival together," said Tanaz Godiwala, a Parsi who runs a catering business in Mazgaon. "We light diyas, eat ladoos and sweets and burst firecrackers. I also give a Diwali bonus to my staff," she said. Goregaon resident Jahaanvi Farhad, who is a Muslim, lights 50 diyas and creates colourful rangoli patterns every day during Diwali. "This is the time of the year we buy silver and gold coins and shop for new saris," said Farhad.
As it is for their Hindu neighbours, bursting firecrackers is the highlight of the festival for non-Hindus too. "Every year, we shop for firecrackers as my 11-year-old brother loves to burst them," said Andheri resident Alisha D'souza.
Some have incorporated their religious beliefs into the Diwali festivities. "Diwali is a festival of lights, and we believe that light brings Jesus Christ to the world," said a nun from Malad. "We light lamps and diyas to celebrate the festival," she said.