October 26, 2008


Another festival, one of the many that dot the Indian calendar has come. However, this one is different, for it is time for Diwali, the festival of lights. There are many mythological tales behind the tale, the most notable ones being the return of Ram to the kingdom of Ayodhya, and the conquest of Krishna over an evil ashura, whose name I forget. I am not going to talk about that. 
I am going to talk about what this festival means to me. 
  • Fighting with mom to sleep a few minutes when she comes to wake me up at 4:00 in the morning
  • Having an oil bath, squirming when she gets the oil on the face. Trying to remove the oil from all parts of the body with the bitter Sheekakai (I have tasted it, accidentally) and coming to terms with the burning eyes. No matter the rest of the year we use shampoos and conditioners, that day belongs to sheekakai. (If you are a kid, you are allowed to use Kadalamaavu)
  • New clothes, the ones that we shopped for the previous weekend, bugging dad to get a jean (when I was a kid, they were a fad and not the ubiquitous clothing of today) and a Tee shirt 
  • Making a thousand faces when mom feeds you the Diwali marundhu (Diwali medicine), a concoction of things that I still have no idea of
  • Going out to be the first in the society to set of a hundred wala, the first to start the day long sessions of crackers
  • Coming back home for the puja, praying to god for things that I do not even remember
  • Waiting for mother to finish cooking, the Vadais (Wada), the paal payasam (Kheer), the poricha appalam (fried papadams). Eating till I can eat no more
  • Going back with friends to either burst more crackers, or play a game of cricket (is there any other game.)
  • Going out with dad in the evening and seeing him bravely bursting the bigger crackers, the ones that I was scared to burst, the atom bombs, the giant flowerpots, those Vishnu chakarams, closing my ears in fright, bur completely enthralled with the event.

Years have passed and I have come to realize that the festival was more than all this. It was a time to be with your family. A festival is not the clothes or the food. It is just an excuse to spend time with friends and family. Things have changed in the recent years, festival have become a reason to call home, to tell them things that are not important anymore, discuss who is doing what and then keep the phone down returning to our daily lives. 

Here is to wishing all the people who are not with the near and dear on a festival, a Happy Diwali
and here is to wishing all the people who are with their near and dear on the festival.. A Happy Diwali


Lazy Lavender said...

Diwali marundhu is still one of the more tasty + healthy delicacies from South!

All 'occasions', 'days' and 'festivals' are for the exact same purpose. To bring to the front of your mind, people and things that you took for granted, and to make you spend time with them.

And thanks, for including my kind in your wishes. Wish you a Happy Diwali too!

Suchitra said...

In the past, and I mean till about 25-30 years back, the purchasing power of people was comparatively low. The things we take for granted now, like traveling upon a whim, rich food, new clothes at the drop of a hat and gifts were not the norm. It fell to occasions like Deepavali to be a much awaited bright spot in the year. It was the time of the year people got their bonuses and could afford to splurge. My parents tell me that Diwali was one of the two occasions of the year when they got new clothes, the other one being their birthday. It was also the time you got to go to your grandparents' place, meet all your uncles and aunts, have a grab at all the eats with your cousins and after TV happened, spend the afternoon sitting in front of it. You could go to school the next day in your 'new dress', and gorge on more sweets.

Now, we don't really need an excuse to celebrate, to wear new clothes or to eat 'special' stuff. We don't need an excuse to talk to people, but strangely, the more we talk in terms of quantity, the less we talk in terms of content. Life was simple those days, and the anniversary of vanquishing an asura (he was Narakasura, btw) was reason enough for celebration. Life is so complicated now, with plenty of inner demons to fight, so I guess the trend of celebration has changed!!

பரத் said...

Happy Diwali!!