The festive season brings with it countless Diwali parties and cheer. However, at the same time, it also brings in a sense of loneliness for those who are single. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the period between October to November, marked with countless festivals such as Dussehra and Diwali, is India's own cuffing season. Young people flock to parties and dandiya nights in an attempt to find love, companionship, or maybe just to indulge in a little bit of festive fun. Romance makes an appearance in small moments and gestures—learning card game rules to fixing each other's clothes, and more. This feeling has its own movie-like zing to it.
It's no wonder then that so many films have scenes revolving around these small sweet moments. This is reflected in real life as well. In a nationwide study, dating app Bumble revealed “a significant trend of dating during the festivals as 63% of Indians surveyed confess they will embrace festival dating and want to date someone during this time.”
But what makes the festive season such an opportune moment for young love?
For Prakhar Khanna, a 26-year-old tech journalist from Noida, it’s a sense of longing that comes from seeing people in love all around. “There is so much love during the festive season with couples posting pictures with their partners, dancing, sometimes being silly, that makes me feel like something is missing in my life.”
Alternatively, for those already in relationships, the festive season is also a chance of solidifying existing bonds by doing activities done together. For Aayushi Vichare, 24-year-old content strategist from Mumbai, just spending time with a significant other during this season is a sign of the relationship going steady. “When you celebrate festivals with someone, it gives a different reassurance. This is something one normally does with family and friends. At such a time, when you make time for someone, you know it is special,” says Vichare.
Many young Indians tap into this opportunity to be out later than usual during dandiya nights or Diwali parties to enjoy the romantic escapades that they would otherwise miss out on due to parental restrictions. Prishita Amin, a 22-year-old content writer from Vadodra, looks forward to the festive season to extend her curfew timings, making date nights more enjoyable.
Beyond curfew complications, Sasha Virk, a 24 year old journalist from New Delhi, also tells me how it’s an excuse to explore the festive season beyond ‘family time.’ “Family obligations during festivals make it harder to find prospects. The festival is meant to be celebrated with ‘loved’ ones but parents don’t understand that friends and that significant others are also categorised as such.”
Through festive dating, young Indians are also looking at a way out of loneliness. At a time when you are bombarded with plus-one invites to parties, it feels that Diwali might be impossible to survive without a partner.
Virk, who is newly single, adds how it’s the only time when being single doesn’t feel like all it’s chalked out to be. “Since high school, I’ve always taken a plus-one to Diwali parties and it’s such a warm experience. Pretending I don’t know how to play teen patti so I can be on his team, the dancing, the cringe-colored coordinated outfits, I miss it all.”
Despite how influential the western culture has been on Indian youth, Valentine’s Day has evaded the mass cultural acceptance beyond simple dates and Instagram posts — instead, major festivals continue to heavily influence dating life cycles and courtship patterns. And while festivals bring with them a handful of loneliness, it is much sweeter, eventually, to counteract that empty space with finally having someone to celebrate it with. One could say it might even make the wait worth it.
Delhi-based Nona Uppal writes on love and relationships. She is on Instagram @nonauppal