Simple Strategies for a Sensory-Friendly Diwali Celebration

Diwali is commonly known as the festival of lights or celebration of lights. Diwali is seen as a victory of light over darkness. It is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists. People celebrate Diwali by lighting number of clay lamps around their home. In addition, a Diwali celebration also consists of prayers, fireworks, Rangoli, and getting together with family and friends. As fun as it seems, Diwali can be stressful for people who experience sensory sensitivity or sensory overload. Diwalis includes bright lights from lamps and fireworks; both sensory-rich experiences. Have you ever thought about creating a sensory-friendly Diwali? Include sensory-friendly strategies and you make more people comfortable.

Keep reading to learn 5 ways to have a sensory-friendly Diwali celebration.

Infographic highlighting 5 ways to make a Diwali celebration sensory-friendly.

Take time to prepare

Since Diwali is a big celebration, it needs a lot of preparation. Typical preparations include cooking up a feast, cleaning the house, and decorating the whole home. Foods include savoury as well as sweet dishes. This can oftentimes get overwhelming because they have to make it in a large portion so that they can share it with their family, friends, and neighbours.

To make the preparation days less stressful, it is important to plan what needs to be done with your family. In addition, dividing the work equally amongst your family members will further reduce overwhelm. The most important thing is to give yourself enough time to complete the preparation. Leaving all the preparation to last minute can lead you to be tensed which can cause extreme stress!

A written plan for the day of celebration can help too. It lets you (and if you share with others) know what to expect.

Gather in a small group

Gathering as a group is another significant part of the Diwali celebration. People gather to exchange gifts, eat together and have a social gathering. Being around a lot of people can be uncomfortable and stressful because those with sensory overload would be anxious to talk to so many people. Limiting the number of guests will help ease things for those who are sensory-sensitive.

It is also important to tell families and friends who will be attending about what to expect. Tell them about sensory-friendly, sensory overload, sensory sensitivity, and sensory-friendly environments.

Have electric lights

Since Diwali is a festival of lights, it is nearly impossible to celebrate without added light! However, lamps can get bright in flame. Therefore, change oil lamps to electric lamps or battery operated lamps to help solve this issue. Especially electric lamps you can dim. For example, set up LED tea lights instead.

Take breaks

As always, allow yourself to take breaks. Most of the time, celebrations that are sensory-rich will have components that might be overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to allow yourself to step outside, get some fresh air, and drink water.

If you have a family gathering, find a quiet room to do calming activities. Listen to calm music. Dim the lights to your liking. Enjoy your favourite snack. Do a quick meditation.

Only you know your body best. Prioritize your body!

Group of people with traditional clothing and holding sparklers on their hands.

Have a sensory-friendly fireworks show

Fireworks are seen in almost all celebrations. However, fireworks’ loud noise and bright and flashing lights can be overwhelming for many.

A newspaper report titled, “Entering the World of Autism” by Anusha Parthasarathy (2016) talks about an event that happened in Chennai India, about creating awareness of autism through sensory perception activities. In this news article, special educator Anu Alex mentioned, “sometimes, people with autism are hypersensitive to hearing. What you may not find loud maybe really, unbearably loud for them. That’s why you often see them move to a corner with their hands over their ears” (2016) 1.   

One solution is to have a private backyard fireworks show. This will limit the number of fireworks being lit and the noise level. Families can choose fireworks that are less intense. Having noise-cancelling earmuffs and wearing sunglasses to eliminate the bright lights are also other ways to stay in the comfort zone.

Moreover, if you choose to go to a big fireworks show, find a comfortable place away from the crowd. Don’t forget to bring along sensory tools such as fidgets and weighted lap pad to help you whenever you need them.

All in all, Diwali is a sensory-rich celebration. Therefore, it is important to follow these measures to help you and your loved ones have a sensory-friendly Diwali celebration!

Happy sensory-friendly Diwali!

Check out the following blog posts to learn more strategies to have a sensory-friendly celebration:

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  1. Parthasarathy, A. (2016). Entering the World of Autism. The Hindu.
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