Decorating for Diwali

Decorating for Diwali

By: Sohini Whatley

The Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali, is the most celebrated festival among Indians all around the world. The festival celebrates the story of the Ramayana where the epic fight over goodness prevails. Hindus rejoice in lightness over darkness, good over evil and come together with friends and family near and far. Homes are decorated in bright colors and oil lamp divas are lit for three days. On the last day everyone celebrating puts on their best firework show.

Decorated room

Outside of India it is often hard to find Diwali decorations so this year with my craft supplies, I made my own. I wanted to use bright colors and pay homage to the wonderful Indian crafts and techniques I adore.

Here's What You'll Need

supplies

The Table Runner

  • Pattern: Self-drafted
  • Final Measurements: 60”x15”

In the state where my family is from India, Gujarat, friends and family often come over during Diwali to enjoy chai and snacks. This is a casual affair, so I made a table runner for my coffee table. I wanted to showcase Kutch mirror embroidery, often called Shisheh or Abhla from the Kutch region of Gujarat.

finished table runner

Before sewing the runner, I lined the mirrors up on the fabric to see how I wanted to create a pattern. Glue is not something that is traditional used in Shisheh but for my project I dabbed a little on to keep the mirrors in place. The embroidery on the mirror can vary from simple designs, similar to mine, to intricate geometric patterns.

close up shot of fabric

After the embroidery was completed, I stitched the runner together. I used multiple pins and a clip to keep the tassels from getting under the needle. Tape would work great too now that I think about it! I went over the tassel strings a few times to ensure they were secure. After hand sewing the opening, I gave the runner a good steaming with the iron but avoided the mirrors in case they cracked. Oh and I used a point turner to get the corners nice and sharp!

The Pillows

  • Pattern: None
  • Final Measurements: 22”x22”

Many Hindu Gods are worshipped during Diwali but Ganesh, known in the West as the Elephant God, is worshipped extensively. When worshipped, Ganesh removes obstacles that stand in our way and blesses Hindus during new beginnings. I have Ganesh sitting on my mantel surrounded by handmade tasseled garlands and a wreath, as well as some handmade wood diyas, made by husband last year, that I will light on the first day of Diwali.

finished pillows

I made some pillows with tassels to tie the runner in. Again, I used clips and pins to keep the tassels in place while sewing. I ironed them once I had sewn them and made sure to get the corners sharp with a point turner. I was able to use all my scraps to stuff these pillows! The pillows are large enough to sit on so if we run out of space on our sofas when friends and family visit, anyone can grab a pillow and sit on the floor.

DIY Garland

To create the garlands, I looped in the tassel on the embroidery thread. I thread the needle and put on a felt ball. I fastened the thread by going around and under and back up the ball. To keep the ball in place, I added a knot on top on the ball. I added another ball, knotted the thread and continued until I had the desired number of balls for my garland.

Diwali garland

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