Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Festival of Lights...


Deepavali or Diwali is here. Today is 'Laxmi Pujan ' one of the biggest days for Hindus across the globe. I am here far away from home in foreign lands and missing all the festivities back home in India. And to top it I am in office and working today...which is so weird.

I still remember the grand celebrations when I was growing up. Started with 'Dhanteras' and ended with 'Bhai dooj'. All the hogging on sweets and wearing new clothes and bursting crackers in the front yard with the house ablaze with lights and diyas (Oil Lamps).

'Narkachaturdashi' is mainly celebrated in Maharashtra- a region where I come from. Its celebrated one day after Dhanteras. It is believed that on that day if you are not bathed and dressed before Sunrise you will go to Hell(Narka) , which we still believe. I remember my mother waking my sis and me up at 4 in the morning and putting scented Oil and a scrub for making us pure on that day. I clearly remember the rough scrub she used on us and scrubbed us raw. Also I can remember the sheer joy we had in bursting crackers. After the sun was up my cousin Ajay and I used to go hunting for any crackers in the front yard which were still usable. The sheer joy of finding one was like a hitting the jackpot or discovering a huge treasure. Then came the fight of who will get the golden chance to use it.

In the afternoon after a heavy meal my entire family alongwith my uncle and aunt and cousin sat down in the front yard to make huge Rangoli creations. It is still so unbelievable that My uncle used to make fantastic Rangolis. Ours were little hodgepodge of colours over which a lot of fuss was made. The grand finale was done by my eldest sister who has a flair for everything creative and was the master of rangolis. I always secretly wanted be like her.

In the evenings we would take sweets to wish our Neighbours and friends. Also another memory comes back is of making a FORT(just like a sand castle) of stones and bricks and mud and cow dung much before Diwali started. We used to build one with the material from our garden. The collection of cow dung was a hilarious process. It basically meant running on the street to gather dung after a cow herd had passed by(I still wonder why we needed that stinky and yucky cow dung). Once it was ready and the mud was still wet we took mustard seeds and planted them in a precise design. Watering the seeds also was very important. The aim was to burst the fort with fire carckers. Somehow I never remember bursting it....maybe because it was all the labour we put into it.

Somehow I feel Diwali has become very commercial now. The Diwali of yesteryears had that pureness and simplicity we lack now. The main aim at that time was to spend time with family and celebrate Hinduism. Somehow Diwali nowadays just does'nt feel like what it was before. Maybe its because I have grown up and it becomes harder and harder to just be in the moment.
I miss spending this Diwali with my in-laws and parents and I wish I could have just flown home for a few days and escaped to my childhood once more.

HAPPY DIWALI TO EVERYONE!!!

5 comments:

Aniruddha Kherekar said...

Highly Nostalgic!!!!!!

I too join you in the precious memoires of childhood... Reading this blog took me ack in time. I could actually smell the new cloths, the excitement of buying them, going to market with mom for flowers, rangoli and mithai. I remember being greedy to buy more and more crackers. Nothing was ever enough.... and then the chivada, ladoo and karanji.... I remember the combined laxmi puja at Mukta Atya's place and then going to each home one by one....

Its really ironic how I have sacrificed all that joy for getting a life which is filled with joy and happiness... Makes a good topic to reflect on.....

Anyways, lets make the most of this Diwali and pray that it brings all of us joy and good luck!!!!!!

Aquarius said...

awwww how sweet....
Yes lets pray to that....

harshavardhini said...

Diwali surely brings families together...but nowadays with so many nuclear families and the geographical distnace between siblings and other family members...it is hard to celebrate this festival together. I always lived with way from my relatives and never experienced what it was like to be with them during festivals and especially during diwali. But yes, I love to be home for diwali!!! The diwali sweets and snacks and the noise and smell of fire crackers...it's all so different!!!! I guess a true Indian at heart will celebrate this festival no matter which part of the world they be settled in...and that is what makes this festival so special!!!

K A said...

I agree that Diwali has been commercialized a lot in recent years and has lost its purity. But so has been the case with traditional 'joint family' culture - which probably is why Diwali has become even more significant today! We need a festival to recall our bonds with friends/families and spend time with them...not actually a good thing to happen, nevertheless, for whatever reasons, Diwali gives us a chance to keep that bond alive.

In fact I like today's version of Diwali more - not heavy on rituals and mainly meant for building/ strengthening bond with family and friends.

~ Kaustubh

K A said...

I agree that Diwali has been commercialized a lot in recent years and has lost its purity. But so has been the case with traditional 'joint family' culture - which probably is why Diwali has become even more significant today! We need a festival to recall our bonds with friends/families and spend time with them...not actually a good thing to happen, nevertheless, for whatever reasons, Diwali gives us a chance to keep that bond alive.

In fact I like today's version of Diwali more - not heavy on rituals and mainly meant for building/ strengthening bond with family and friends.

~ Kaustubh

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