I was walking home last night on a dark night and suddenly it dawned on me that the otherwise dark lanes were brightly lit. Though most of the shops were shut owing to the time I was returning home, the trees at the end of the roads were wrapped up with string lights. My first thought to this--what's happening? Is someone getting married? I continued to walk and noticed all lanes were beautifully done and lit up. Finally, I realized it is the Deepavali week!
As a child, this was the week I used to look forward to throughout the year. Back then, it was all buying clothes, firecrackers, meeting the family and extended family, prostrating at the feet of all elders in the hope of getting Rs. 100 from them. Festivals such as Deepavali used to be the only excuses where we got opportunities to meet my extended family.
Being born in a typical Tamil Brahmin family, we had days planned for specific rituals. The first day starts with the holy oil bath meant to commemorate the triumph over evil associated with the battle between the demon Narakasur and Lord Krishna. Being the only son, I was woken up at 5 am and made to sit on a platform and my grandmother used to oil my hair and give me a bath in cold water.
After I completed my bath, my grandmother would come with a puja thali and put vibhuti on my forehead and shoulders. As the day progressed, it would graduate to be more of a show-off because I had the habit of flaunting my clothes and bursting crackers. My grandmother used to feel no matter which coloured clothes I used to wear, I was still like a clown. I realized it very late that she was right.
Afternoons used to be a big family lunch along with the members of the extended family being together. It would be an event as all the members sat together laughing and eating. Nights used to be most eventful--lighting up the "diyas" all over the place and bursting firecrackers and eating to the fullest. This is what a typical Deepavali used to be in my childhood.
In 2005, after the demise of my cousin brother, I lost interest in bursting firecrackers and then the craze for them wore off as the environmental aspect became more obvious. Finally, I dedicated myself for celebrating Deepavali at the local temple organizing a "Deepolsavam" where we used to switch off tubelights and light the temple with diyas so as to spread the light.
Happiness is where your heart and family is. Wishing you a very Happy Deepavali. Remember, safety first!!