By Peyton Newfont, NSLI-Y participant from USA hosted at Indore

(Photo Above: During Diwali with host family)

“The most meaningful part of Diwali for me was the Puja that we did in the evening. My entire extended family crowded into the tiny prayer room together. The whole wall ahead of us was covered in flowers and statues of Gods and the little shelves were overflowing with freshly made ‘prashad’.  Yet even in this wonderful little sanctuary, my emotions were conflicted. I didn’t know hardly any of the songs, nor did I understand which Gods we were worshiping and why. But my Mom kept giving me this little grin like “Isn’t this great? Don’t you just love this?” And I couldn’t help but enjoy flashing a smile back. Even though I live with the ever-present knowledge that I am different, the beautiful ceremonies throughout Diwali helped me understand that is a privilege to get even a glimpse into the rich lives and culture of my Indian community. To some extent, I will always be an outsider in India. I’m American. Yet so many people are eager for me to become a part of the country they love and have worked tirelessly to make Indore my home. I am grateful to everyone who has graciously welcomed me into their lives and I continue to learn from their faith.”