I don’t know how you feel about cleaning up, but for me, the spirit of Diwali begins weeks before, with a round of spring cleaning. It’s a step I cannot skip in sprucing up my home to welcome the festival of lights. Whether you have a tradition of Diwali cleaning, or you’re big on entertaining during the festival or not, there’s nothing like spreading the cheer and getting your festive spirit on by decking your house up.
In all my years of doing this in my home, I’ve realised that this needn’t be an expensive or elaborate affair. Through lots of trial and error and lots of experimentation along the way, all it takes to get my home to wear an upbeat, sparkly vibe is to adhere to a few basic principles: to upcycle, reuse and repurpose little things already available around the home intelligently and creatively, and to really believe that less is more. After all, it’s the energy and warmth that one puts into creating an atmosphere that counts and few festivals inspire me like Diwali does. If you find yourself at a loss before every Diwali, or you never have enough time to plan for it, or maybe you just don’t have the time and patience for an elaborate set up, perhaps I could share some of my inspiration and ideas with you. I’m keen to show you how this is indeed possible without too much effort. And certainly, without breaking the bank.
- It’s not called the festival of lights for nothing. So let’s begin there. String lights or fairy lights in warm yellow tones are not hard to find, and they’re fairly inexpensive. Buy a good set that you can store away after the festival is done to re-use year after year. This year, try something different and string them or arrange them over indoor plants of varying heights for a dramatic effect, rather than stringing them on balconies and across doorways alone.
- Bring the outdoors indoors, with a few indoor plants in dedicated corners. Drag in some pots from your balcony, or garden, even if just for the duration of Diwali. These can make cute corners decked up with garlands, greens from the plants, string lights and/or diyas for a simple but homely feel.
- If you’re not up to the mess and prep required with diyas, oil and wicks and the like, tea lights are very easily available in any supermarket these days. They come in convenient sets of multiple numbers so you can liberally use them across the home. Safety first, though, so be sure to secure them in spaces that are free from flammable material. Secure them at heights that are safe from reach from children and pets. Deck them up with strings of flowers, rangolisof coloured powder or flower petals, and see how a combination of these really lifts the mood.
- Strings of marigold are the quintessential festival look. A good stock of marigold is really versatile – they’re long-lasting, very festive and when deconstructed, floating water too. That’s a lot of value from a single variety of flower. Also dress up some corners with smaller bunches of loose flowers in 2-3 other colours. Refresh the water in these frequently to keep the flowers going for longer. Create spaces for floating candles in wide bowls, vases and the like and float loose marigold flowers or rose petals in them. However, make sure you replace the water and petals everyday to keep them looking and smelling fresh. Light tea lights only in the evenings before your guests arrive.
- If you have a large centre table or a coffee table that is likely to be used for a night of cards, dress it up with an ornate sari as a table runner. Be sure to keep diyas, candles, food and drink away to make sure you don’t ruin it in the bargain! If you have a little time to plan and prepare, repurpose old but classic silk fabric either from saris, salwar suits or dhotis to turn them into cushion covers, curtains or throws.Rich Indian fabrics really bring out the festive undertones and add a tremendous vibrance to decor.
- Lastly, let’s fix ourselves some mithai! Arrange Diwali sweetsand dry fruit, in large glass jars so they’re easy to pass around and share with visitors. Alternate these jars with jars filled with string lights to liven up your dining table or side table where you can keep them.
I’m off to do some last minute tidying up, before I turn on the lights and lay out the sweet. In just a few hours my home will be filled with light and laughter shared with friends and family. This is a great time of year to spend some time and effort in doing up your home because it is where you experience so much of your interactions with loved ones.