Priya Mani Raj
Diwali Celebrations this year and some unforgettable Diwali Gifts: This year my husband I are celebrating Diwali in Bangalore with my parents. My mum used to buy a lot of crackers for my brother and myself – the bombs, the flower pots and sparklers. We would get new clothes but not really any big gifts in the earlier days.
Childhood Diwali memories: My brother and I used to get up at 6 am and burst crackers. We used to put the patakis in between the tree branches and make it burst. My brother was an expert with Laxmi patakis and my father was the rocket expert. We used to get together with neighbours and burst crackers from 6 to 9 pm and then retire to get up early in the morning and start bursting crackers again. After that we would visit the neighbours and distribute sweets and then in the evening light the lamps. We used to get a lot of sweets as kids.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? I think I would like to associate myself with the Bijli Pataki, something which is small and just goes thud and stops.
Favourite Diwali food and why? My favourite sweet is the kaju barfi and my brother loved the motichoor laddoo. Mom used to make a lot of special dishes to eat during Diwali. A lot of it has changed now as we have become very health conscious, so we try and avoid sweets now.
Diwali Donations or Charity during this festival season: My mother is associated with a lot of charity work in Bangalore. She keeps donating clothes and food to underprivileged children. In Mumbai, my husband and I are involved in distributing clothes to underprivileged children and sponsor a lot of girl’s education.
Diwali Celebrations this year and some unforgettable Diwali Gifts: This year I will be in London during Diwali. Although I’ll be missing all the festivities back home which I love so much, I have a few Indian friends here who celebrate it. So, may end up celebrating with them. Diwali has been one of my favourite festivals. It’s the festival that generally symbolises the victory of light over darkness. So, I always look forward to it.
Childhood Diwali memories: As a child I would literally count the number of days closer to the festival, because I would look forward to bursting crackers and lighting diyas all around the house. It was something I did every year without fail throughout my childhood.
Movie Theatre Memories during Diwali: Om Shanti Om was one such film I remember watching during Diwali with my entire family. Literally half the theatre was filled with my family and friends because we were distributing that film in Karnataka at the time. So, we all ended up watching it together.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? My parents called me Pataki as a kid, because I was quite a mischievous kid. So, I relate to that name even today.
Diwali Donations or Charity during this festival season: Every year my birthday falls either on Diwali or close to Diwali (October 28) so I end up providing meals and groceries for a few orphanages. I anyway, work closely with a few NGOs to see how we can work together to meet their requirements for food supplies etc.
Diwali Celebrations this year and some unforgettable Diwali Gifts: I’m happy to be celebrating Diwali with my mom in Mumbai this year, and virtually with my family. Fingers crossed, they may even be able to join us for a family celebration in India this year!
Childhood Diwali memories: Growing up in Canada, Diwali was filled with community celebrations that went on for several weeks. We would perform at cultural events across the city and celebrate with fireworks. Going to the Gurdwara was something I always looked forward to. We would all go light diyas outside and pray. It was always a little chilly at Diwali time, but really nice to see all of the lights!
Movie Theatre Memories during Diwali: There were limited Bollywood movies in theatres when I was a kid, so going to the movie theatre during Diwali wasn’t a regular part of our celebrations in Canada.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? Phuljhadi! Because they’re dainty, beautiful and versatile – they’re pretty, can be used at any occasion and light up our lives!
Favourite Diwali food and why? Chena Murki is my favourite mithai and usually something we only got around Diwali time.
Diwali Celebrations this year and some unforgettable Diwali Gifts: Last five years I’ve been celebrating Diwali in Chennai at home since I’ve moved here now. This year I’ll celebrate at my home in Chennai and it’s going to be super fun as I’ve now shifted to my new place. I’ll have all my close friends and family over and we will do some Laxmi puja and dress up and chill together and eats lots of yummy festive food and lots of delicious sweets. We don’t plan to burst any crackers.
Childhood Diwali memories: When we were kids and would get together with elders at home, they would give us something called Kharchi, which is nothing but pocket money. We would compare with each other who got more kharchi. This will always be memorable for all of us. Also, we would buy crackers and burst them on Diwali. Silly things like lighting crackers in the hand and then enjoying the rockets etc. Now I don’t really burst crackers, but just for shagun I may just burst a few sparklers.
Movie Theatre Memories during Diwali: Diwali has some of the best movie releases every year. Back home we don’t really go out for a movie on Diwali as it’s more about getting together and celebrating the festival. Maybe one or two days later we would have watched a few good movies that released every year.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? I may compare myself to an atom bomb as it is small and subtle looking, but when it blasts it is quite a pataka. I’m short and petite, but also very powerful.
Diwali Donations or Charity during this festival season: I don’t burst crackers since almost 8 – 9 years now since I got myself a dog. But I do buy crackers and give them out to the underprivileged so that atleast they can burst crackers and have fun during the festival. I personally do that every year. I also have a thrift store that we have opened where I give away my own clothes every year.
Diwali Celebrations this year and some unforgettable Diwali Gifts: I’m from Coorg, so over there we never really celebrated in a very big way. But since the time I’ve moved to Mumbai, over 10 years back, I’ve started celebrating in a big way. I start off with cleaning my house, putting rangolis with some diyas, fairy lights and wear new clothes. I love Indian clothes and look for occasions to wear sarees and salwar suits. There’s a real happiness wearing new clothes. I actually bought new clothes for myself. I buy diyas from the local shops and also the marigolds and decorate the house myself and I do the Laxmi puja in the evening. After that my friends come over. I have some friends from Delhi in Mumbai so we play poker together. We play with tokens, not with money. I like gifting handmade stuff and have received really cute diyas and dupattas during Diwali that I always cherish.
Childhood Diwali memories: I’m against crackers. Even as a kid, I never liked crackers. It’s best to avoid them to avoid noise and air pollution. It’s more about celebrating with family and friends. I have fond memories of spending Diwali with my sister. We used to clean up the house and light diyas. We used to tell dad to get us some nice diyas. We plucked flowers from our mother’s garden to decorate our house with flowers. She’s fond of gardening so she has a lot of bougainvilleas, roses, anthuriums and jasmines. We used to take a needle and made our own jasmine garlands also. We also made handmade greeting cards. We also told mom to make something special. We hated buying sweets from outside. We used to tell her to make coconut barfis.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? My parents never let me go close to crackers. If I have to compare myself to one then it has to be anaar. It takes time to light up and it’s gentle, doesn’t make a sound and once it’s lit it’s so pretty.
Movie Theatre Memories during Diwali: I remember watching Fashion in 2008 when we had gone watching it with friends during Diwali. And after a few years, we were in the same industry, so it feels nostalgic remembering watching it.
Diwali Donations or Charity during this festival season: I feel there should not be a day to help someone. For me it’s a service that I do throughout the year. I work with this NGO called Child Vision and Education, that helps educate the underprivileged. I’m working with them for the past four years. You can fund the kids’ education and take care of any number of kids. I’ve been educating four kids. I also collect clothes and toys from my building and donate them to the needy.
Diwali Celebrations this year and some unforgettable Diwali Gifts: This Diwali my whole family is here, but we will be missing my brother because he is in Paris for his further studies. It’s going to be little difficult without him but my parents and in-laws would be celebrating Diwali together. Also, the best Diwali gift ever is my father’s Tanpura. As a kid, I used to do my riyaaz and absolutely loved it. This Diwali we are finally working on the tanpura to bring it back to life. It would be so nice to do riyaaz using my childhood Tanpura.
Childhood Diwali memories: For Diwali, we used to make Diwali ghar in the bottom of the building where all kids used to get together and built it together. It was so much fun doing these activities and it was quite innovative as we used to put all our ideas into and do the best. I think in today’s time when kids are in front of phone screen, instead they should be given more time to do such activities and should be given bricks, mud, paints, etc that they can make something using their hand. We use to really enjoy it as kids and it’s a childhood connect that I have with Diwali.
Movie Theatre Memories during Diwali: Actually, most of my songs would release during Diwali, hence there are so many films that we have watched with my songs during this festive season. Ghunghroo was also one of them which was released during Diwali. I remember that very well and many more movies I have sung for have released around Diwali and they have been very special.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? I actually feel it depends on time to time and mood, I could be a Phuljhadi at times or Anaar or could be Rocket too at times. But, I believe we all have different mood and situations. On that note, I think it’s a sincere request to everyone to not burst any crackers because the pandemic is even more difficult with people having breathing problem and it’s a burden for our animals and environment too. I think we need to be very courteous to each other and completely refrain from buying or selling or bursting the crackers.
Favourite Diwali food and why? For Diwali we make food specially at home. There is lots of Mithai and my grandmother use to make coconut, jaggery and ghee laddoos. She would also make kheer and we used to completely stuff our faces.
Diwali Celebrations this year and some unforgettable Diwali Gifts: This year I’ll hopefully be visiting my relatives to celebrate Diwali. I’ve been away from home and my parents for a while so it’s always nice to be around family during the happy time of Diwali. It makes me feel complete and content when I’m with family celebrating the festivities! Till a couple of years ago, while my Dadi was still around, I used to try to visit her during the festival and I distinctly remember that she would always knit scarves and socks for me as a Diwali gift. That is probably my most treasured gift, and will cherish it forever because of the memories it holds for me!
Childhood Diwali memories: Back home in Auckland, my friend and I would visit the Gurudwara with her family, enjoy ourselves with the delicious food at the langar, light candles, and come back home to a place full of light, happiness and diyas. Maybe that’s where I got my love for candles and diyas from, it gives me a sense of happiness and satisfaction.
Movie Theatre Memories during Diwali: One movie which released during Diwali was Om Shanti Om and it still is one of my favourites. I remember going to the theatre to watch it with the perfect combination of popcorn and Bollywood! The title track is iconic and I still love watching the film over and over again.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? As I have grown up I have understood how damaging firecrackers can be to the environment and also to our furry friends. So, I avoid all crackers now and I urge others to do the same.
Favourite Diwali food and why? I’m a true-blue foodie, as everyone knows. It’s tough to pin point on one particular item because Diwali is defined by delicious Mithai’s and traditional delicacies. not to forget the yummy dry fruits that everyone gifts to one another! Although, narrowing down on one dish, I absolutely adore kaju katri, it’s a mithai which is simply too hard to resist!
Diwali Celebrations this year and some unforgettable Diwali Gifts: Diwali is all about spending time with family and this year also is going to be like that. My cousin sister is getting married during Diwali.
Childhood Diwali memories: When I was a kid, my dad used to get a lot of crackers as his company used to give a huge box of them to their employees. When I grew up I realised my favourite flower pots causes the most pollution so I don’t burst them now.
Movie Theatre Memories during Diwali: The movie that we as a family went and watched during Diwali when I was a kid was Hum Saath Saath Hain and dad told us see that’s how families are supposed to be.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? I would compare myself to a flower pot as it is beautiful and it lights up the whole area. I would like to be like that – light up people’s lives. The other crackers just make noise.
Favourite Diwali food and why? I love sweets but these days I don’t eat them much as I’m an actress and have to maintain my figure. But my all-time favourite is gulab jamuns.
Diwali Donations or Charity during this festival season: Our foundation has been working non-stop even during Covid times and will continue to do so during Diwali as well. We have reached 16 districts and 25,000 families. There are still many people who reach out to us for help every day.
Diwali Celebrations this year: This year I will be celebrating at home with family and friends. Last year we didn’t celebrate properly due to Covid.
Special Diwali gifts: A mango yellow lehenga my parents got me after much deliberation since it was too expensive at that time, but they still got it for me as a surprise to wear on Diwali.
Childhood Diwali memories: I had an accident with a firecracker at the age of 12. My right wrist was completely burnt. I couldn’t take up my half yearly exams and it took me a year to completely heal from it and the marks went off totally without a trace thankfully. Since that day I don’t go near crackers at all!
Movie Theatre Memories during Diwali: Mersal! Remember watching it with full whistles and claps in the theatre with friends.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? Rocket, I want to always fly higher and brighten up the area I’m in.
Diwali Celebrations this year: My dates are packed as I’m shooting for a Vikram Bhatt film in Mumbai. The shoot is ongoing now and will continue till mid-November. I will be away from my family and my set of friends from Bangalore on work this time and will celebrate Diwali in Mumbai.
Childhood Diwali memories: My dad was in the army, so we used to stay in the army colonies where all the kids used to come together and burst fire crackers which I’m totally against now as it adds to the pollution. I’m also an animal activist and crackers are not good for animals. I’m hoping that this Diwali is pollution free and noise free.
Favourite Diwali food and why? I’m a Bengali and love my Diwali sweets.
Diwali Celebrations this year and special Diwali gifts: I’m going to be spending a lot of time with my family and relatives in Chennai, as I’ve been working non-stop for the last three months and didn’t get much time to spend with them. We are also going to play cards. Most of the Diwali gifts are sweets and dry fruits, but my parents always give me something special on Diwali, that I always cherish.
Childhood Diwali memories: When we were kids we would go to the streets and burst crackers with other kids. We would have competition with other kids and would love all the fun around it.
Movie Theatre Memories during Diwali: It’s more of a taash party, crackers, sweets, family and celebration for us, not really movies during the festival time. Yes, after that we do catch up on the new releases.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? A flower pot as it doesn’t make too much noise, but it shines and gives out its light. It’s soothing and beautiful to see.
Diwali Donations or Charity during this festival season: I’m doing a few donations for the underprivileged kids and also to a few people that are suffering due to Covid.
Diwali Celebrations this year and some unforgettable Diwali Gifts: It will be a no sound Diwali. Maybe I’ll get some flower pots that don’t create loud noise.
Childhood Diwali memories: I was very notorious as a child. Our father used to get crackers for four days and I would finish the bombs on day one. I used to take them in the hand, but thankfully no incidents happened. My father used to accompany me as a child to light the rockets.
Movie Theatre Memories during Diwali: It was all about crackers and then asking my parents to get more crackers. Now with so much of environmental responsibility I want a festival of beautiful lights and gratitude. I had a tough time, so I’m looking forward to a peaceful time now. We saw people passing away due to Covid, so we need to be grateful every day to be alive. After being a scapegoat, I have now realised who and what is important for me in my life. I want to be with real people who matter to me.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? I have now become a very calm person. I would like to compare myself with a beautiful well lit diya, which lights up inside out and outside in and fights its destiny to stay bright.
Diwali Donations or Charity during this festival season: I have my own foundation called Sanjjanaa Galrani Foundation and during the Covid wave we served 2 lakh meals in the span of 47 days. We would cook in my car basement and send out the food. We also collect clothes and distribute in the slum areas.
Diwali Celebrations and Memorable Gifts: This year it is surely about watching Rajinikanth’s Annaatthe in the theatre. I also look forward to watching Enemy starring my close friends and actors Vishal and Arya. In life, the unforgettable Deepavali gift has been the call I received on a Deepavali day from director Mani Ratnam saying I have been selected for a role in his film Raavanan.
Childhood special Deepavali memories: There are so many memories. But one stands out for the notoriety of it. A friend had got a custom made Deepavali bomb from Sivakasi. It was a dangerous one if not handled with care. It had to be set off in a deserted open space and not fit for home. We drove all the way to ECR to burst it in an empty plot just to see the effect. The wick was five meters long and the bomb was the size of a coconut. We lit it and ran from the scene. The bomb exploded, the paper bits from it were scattered for 50 meters.
Nostalgic movie memories during Diwali: Deepavali is always about film releases and theatre visits. On the festive day I devote myself to watching Ajith and Vijay movies FDFS. The screaming, the dancing and throwing papers in the air. You cannot hear a single dialogue but the hysteria is real.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? A flower pot cracker. It starts slowly but it bursts and shines in time. I have two to three movies lined up for release next year. Few years ago, I used to give interviews on TV during Deepavali for my films, but this year I have not. I am sure next year my Deepavali will be different and people will be watching me talk about my films and performances.
Donations or charity for the needy or underprivileged during this festival season: We are all going through tough times. I believe charity begins at home. I have been trying to help my own family members and close friends going through trouble due to Coronavirus. I do not believe in doing charity for publicity or to show off on social media.
– By Naomi N
Diwali 2021 celebrations: We will wait for Annaatthe release and look forward to Thalaivar hooting!
Diwali 2021 celebrations: Diwali 2020 was very quiet yet interesting and it taught me a lot. For Diwali 2021 whatever I learned in 2020 I’m going to apply it.
Which cracker would you compare yourself with and why? Lakshmi bomb or atom bomb because I’m a small package with a big explosion.
Diwali 2020 memories: Every time during Diwali, we have a lot of friends and family parties. Traditionally, I go to visit friend’s homes and I tend to have one Diwali party at my place also, where I call a few of my friends to bring in Diwali, celebrating with them and enjoying.
Diwali 2021 celebrations: Last year was fun and this year will be fun too. Diwali time is more about desserts and mithais. Other times of the year, I tend to avoid them, but this is the time I tend to binge on mithais that I like. I look forward to these festive days and have sweets. Otherwise it’s usually all about eating healthy.
Diwali 2020 memories: Well Diwali 2020 was very exciting. I had a Diwali party that time and suddenly I got Covid after that (laughs) I was on bed rest for two weeks.
Diwali 2021 celebrations: I’m going to celebrate Diwali this year. I wish everyone an amazing and safe Diwali. Keep the children away from the crackers. Enjoy yourself, take care, stay safe. Diwali is a beautiful festival.
Well Diwali 2020 was very exciting. I had a Diwali party that time and suddenly I got Covid after that (laughs) I was on bed rest for two weeks.
Diwali 2021 celebrations: I’m going to celebrate Diwali this year. I wish everyone an amazing and safe Diwali. Keep the children away from the crackers. Enjoy yourself, take care, stay safe. Diwali is a beautiful festival.
Singer Juggy Sandhu
Diwali Celebrations this year: I have to celebrate with my family and loved ones. I have a lot of shows also coming up and new original trackers are coming up so I will be busy with that. So Diwali looks great to me. Enjoy, have fun but be safe!
Diwali 2020 memories: Last year Diwali was not on our calendar and this year we should celebrate, but no crackers this year, because so many people have lost their lives.
Diwali Celebrations this year: I think this Diwali will be a progressing, happy and peaceful one. As of now, the industry is now back on its feet so it’s very nice to see that there’s hope again. We are excited that movies are all coming to theatres and movie goers have started coming back to the theatres.
Diwali 2020 memories: I guess Diwali 2020 was pretty subdued for all of us and not really flashy as it is always otherwise.
Diwali Celebrations this year: Hopefully Diwali 2021 will be good as things are looking a little better now. We still have to be very careful about certain things. We can’t get complacent about the fact that Covid is gone, as Covid is still there and we have to be very careful. I hope the talks around the third wave that are on, don’t come true, so that we can peacefully continue to live our lives the way we were doing in pre covid days.