With Diwali just a few days away, popular actor, singer and host Meiyang Chang opens up on celebrating Diwali and shares his love for the festival! He also reveals some special childhood memories.
Talking about the importance of Diwali in his life, Meiyang says,
“Last year, Diwali celebrations with my friends in Mumbai were a life saver, as it literally drove away my blues. It was also probably the most indulgent of my life so far with so many parties, food coma, lots of games and music; even trying my hand at cards for the first time AND winning handsomely (with a LOT of help). That was some quality time with friends and reconnecting with old ones too. There’s something about the festival of lights that fills everyone with positive energy, lots of colour and bonhomie. Everyone is in a gracious, good and giving mood; be it in material goods or great vibes. Everything seems lighter and brighter, and that’s what makes it wonderful, beautiful and important for me; the assurance that after the darkness, light will return.”
Meiyang shares that even though he spent many Diwali celebrations at boarding school; those celebrations still had its special charm.
“I’ve spent almost all my Diwalis in boarding school. I know it sounds tragic because it is a festival one somehow manages to get home for, but that’s how it was for me. There were quite a few beautiful upsides to it, though. Stronger bonds were forged by spending it with those batch mates, teachers and staff who you called family for the rest of the year, and who couldn’t be with their families on this day either. Having a huge campus surrounded by mountains helped. Students from across religions & social strata became one big unit and would be collectively immersed in what we called ‘House decoration’ where our creativity (especially with the limited resources) would be at its peak and we accomplished some very impressive projects like statues, artwork, even topographies. We learnt to be content with less as the fireworks were rationed (but happiness and Diwali dinner were not), and we would also collectively clean up our mess the next morning. Taking responsibility for our actions, brotherhood and resourcefulness: these were some very important lessons to learn at a young age. Even though I missed many Diwali celebrations at home, I miss these Diwali celebrations at school too.”
About what he loves most about Diwali; Meiyang expresses his love for almost every part of the festival! He says,
“Diwali is an adopted festival for me and I love everything about it, because there’s so much joy in celebrating it. I love dressing up for it. I think Indian wear is one of the most royal and sexy in the world, and the combination of Chinese genes and Indian Ethnic wear is a killer! And of course, the food! I love gorging on kachoris, kaju katli, nimkis specifically, but otherwise everything in general. The foodie in me is in overdrive on Diwali. I’m not a fan of card games at Diwali as people get too consumed by it (and also, I don’t play), but I love the vibe of Diwali parties. It’s like being in a big Bollywood blockbuster where the celebrations never stop!”
Sharing his plans for celebrating Diwali this year, he says,
“This year, I plan to spend it with my family and I’m very excited for it because otherwise, family time often gets sacrificed at the altar of a busy work life. The last time a lot of us got together was in 2019, and I remember it very, very fondly because it’s rare that so many from different cities & countries make it at the same time. I still remember our happiness at being together, especially my little cousins who got to experience a little of the big city Diwali too.”
“I’ve been trying to spend more time with my parents of late. There are two things that will be special about this trip with them. Firstly, it’s been planned by my Father who rarely shows initiative for such things and it’s great to see him excited for something. And secondly, I’ll be meeting his sisters (my paternal aunts) after almost a decade and a half. My Chacha – Chachi and cousins are going to be there as well. There’s so much to catch up on. We don’t celebrate Diwali in the traditional sense but diyas will be lit and of course, there will be sweets. Nothing concrete is planned as of now but rest assured there will be a lot of food, reminiscences and laughter. I’m looking forward to it, and to exploring the local sights and sounds as well.”
The Supreme Court recently passed a law restricting the use of fireworks to minimise its negative impact on the environment. Meiyang shares that while it may be received with mixed feelings, it is beneficial for the long run.
“I know this is a very touchy topic for many, but I think it’s a good decision for the long run. There’s no denying global warming and its ill-effects on us anymore; we are seeing it all around in real time now. Festivals are an emotion, and bursting firecrackers with family has been an integral part of Diwali but we have to find alternatives. “
“In Maharashtra, devotees have adopted eco-friendly Ganeshas in the past decade and it’s a beautiful example of celebrating responsibly, with full fervour and without compromising on the core ideals of the festival. I believe the same can be done for Diwali and festivals across religions, as well as other celebrations (sports, weddings etc.) by banning use of fireworks with toxic components as well as using the more eco-friendly variants, if at all. Fireworks alone are not the root cause of all pollution, but we must remember that our sheer numbers can produce a substantial amount of air & noise pollution. It has to be a conscious choice to cut down where we can,” he adds.
Meiyang Chang’s enthusiasm for Diwali is certainly evident, and he wishes everyone a Happy Diwali!