He is a Muslim and I am Hindu. Both by birth and choice.
The first year after we were married, we went over to my parent’s home and sat with them for the annual family Diwali puja. We sing a bhajan and do a small pooja.
The second year, he was uncomfortable and he said, you go ahead and I will join the family later after the pooja is over. So he did not have to participate…… perhaps he felt coopted and pressurised to assimilate.
The third year I refused to visit my parents on Diwali. I called it cultural confusion…. and it depressed me. As the evening progressed, he just did not feel right about it and very belatedly, when it was all over, we turned up at my parent’s home to meet on Diwali. They were almost already in bed by then.
This year was the 5th Diwali. My original plan was to get away from it all by arranging to be in Lahore on Diwali…. for a workshop I have been invited for. So I thought, its a good way to avoid the confusion on Diwali. Could not get visas in time, so plan failed.
His mum was in town and ironically her enthusiasm seemed to give me permission to be happy on Diwali. We all dressed up (I wore a sari!) and attended the puja, I sang the bhajan along with my parents, my daughter’s sat in dadi and papa’s laps, my father put a teeka on everyone’s forehead, Mum gave us lots of presents….. and it was fun for most people. He and I were quite tense….. but it was much better. And all because the person we are afraid of offending was there and led the way.