It's finally here... that wonderful time of the year when we polish ourselves and our houses, put on our finery, participate in various rituals, gift (willingly for a change!!) and just come together to celebrate. It's Deepavali and I, for once, am truly excited.
It's a festival that has always had a special meaning to me and it comes with so many shiny, happy memories. This year, I'm spending it with my family and a few relatives from Delhi, which is a real treat! Because of work and the art venture commitments, I couldn't spend it with my family last year, but this time around, I made sure that no matter what happened, I would be here in Bombay, to celebrate it with them.
Diwali has certain traditions and rituals that you follow as a family and at my house, the responsibility is divided between all the members of the family that are present in the city. As far as I can remember, my mum gave me th responsibility of distributing the sweets and savouries to all the neighbours and decorating the house with diyas and flowers. My role also included ensuring that none of the diyas lost their light! This year too, we continue the tradition and I am looking forward to letting my creativity flow as I set about distributing sweets and savouries as well as decorating the house with diyas and flowers.
For me, Diwali has also always been a symbol of new beginnings... a time to forget all your troubles and just celebrate being alive. It's also a time when I get to indulge (guilt-free) is one of my favourite pastimes... giving gifts! I love thinking of specialized, personalized gifts to give my friends and family and seeing their faces come alive when they receive the gifts. The presence of childhood friends, this year, I spent a lot of time and effort on my Deepavali gifts and I'm actually very happy with the outcome... I just hope everyone who receives them thinks the same.
Fireworks were very much a part of my early growing years and something I looked forward to, but one Diwali, when I was 14 years old, my cousin brother passed away at the age of 19, which is why I lost interest in bursting crackers. The morning after the Deepavali night, I looked out of the window, only to open my eyes to the after-effects of fireworks---the huge pile of garbage everywhere and the smog that settled over the streets! I was shocked. Ever since then, I stopped myself from playing with fireworks, not just for the reasons mentioned above but also because of the damage it is doing to the environment and also because of the exploitation of young children in the factories that churn out these fireworks. If you must, get together in a group and burst a few but make sure you clean up after you're done!
The Diwali night has always been a little special. It is a tradition in my house to switch off all the lights in the house and light the house with diyas. Of course, it is a concept known as ''Deepolsavam'', which we plagiarized from a temple in Bangalore. It is a beautiful sight to be greeted with arrays of painted diyas. My Diwali outfit is identified... the diyas are ready to be lit... my sister has come home to design the rangolis with graphics that have been sketched, the special menu of the gastronomic delights is ready to be served... the lights are ready to be switched off for the ''Deepolsavam''.
Before I go, from my family to yours, I would like to wish everyone a very happy and safe Deepavali. I hope it brings you the joy, laughter and wonderful memories that it gives me every year.