With the #Tolerancetussle and Awardvapsi in the air and eco friendly alternatives to serene Diwali in India at its peak..here are a few things I used to love about Diwali … and missed it while we were in the US and guess what.. missed it again this Diwali while very much in India…
With three toddlers recently submitting a plea to ban firecrackers, and many in my neighbourhood shunning the firecrackers for various reasons from noise pollution to how much their pets are affected by the din, I am almost ashamed to admit I still just love the firecrackers. Memories of running around shooting with pistols filled with roll caps, standing amazed at the towering fuljhadis, dodging errant jaminchakars, those terribly smoky color pencils and the creepy looking snakes from the black tablets flood my mind every Diwali. For years in US, I yearned for that smell of smoke and din of the 1000 lar..I used to even ask my mother to keep the phone open to hear that familiar crackling sound that exploded joy in my heart.. but now that we are back, most kids , ably guided by their schools say NO to crackers. We still are a noise free cracker-loving family, but like in everything else in life, a little portion control goes a long way!
Receiving Diwali Greeting Cards:
Back in the days, when internet and social media had not pervaded every pore of our body, we used to get tons of greeting cards. Me, the pack rat used to dutifully store away the personal ones with special notes to me and separate the official ones that could be used for Diwali Homework decorations! Today’s whatsapp and Facebook messages are plenty, but the joy of ripping open that envelope is not the same as watching a high res image download (Especially since you have already seen that image circulated on 10 other groups!)
Making Sweets and Diwali Bumper Issues:
In today’s jet age, making homemade sweets for distribution seems almost quaint. There are curated baskets available with exquisite selections.. and while certainly it’s the thought that counts.. the fun of helping Amma experiment on fancy recipes from Bumper “Diwali Special” editions (Oh, does anyone remember those?) was something else. Then she would pick the latest creations, place them on a decorative plate and we used to run around delivering them in the building! And with the current awareness levels on fitness and health, the minute one pops a ghee laden sweet , the calorie counter clicks in front of your eyes..not to mention every third article on how to watch what you eat this Diwali!!
Lighting Mud Diyas:
I still remember Amma buying new earthern diyas, dunking them in water, then drying them and arrange them in large plates. Then with the cotton wicks and oil poured in each, we would wait until it was time to run out and place them around the house and compound walls. Today dozens of beautiful and intricately crafted studed with pearls and gems are available to adorn your home. Easy tealight make it a snap to change them out..yet the traditional me still lights a row of earthern diyas just for old times sakesJ
So true, there was a charm to every festival in the past and now it is up to us to make it special in our own way, in keeping with the times. While online shopping and custom madegifts are available with ease, we are able to reach out friends and family in ways we couldn’t dream of before. The instant we wear our new sparking Diwali wear, a photo has been clicked and Whatsapped and our parents sitting miles away have the pleasure of seeing how you look in that sari they picked for you. Readymade rangolis and ample sweet options make sure even those without a creative bone can jazz up their homes in their own way. With growing social responsibility awareness, many of us today take time to make meaningful contributions to improve the lives of those around us.. beyond the Diwali bonus and ladoos.
Times change and if our youngsters today are aware and are able to say NO to crackers, then Kudos to them. While we should encourage positive action and the signboard that propagates this, but at the same time, let’s preach tolerance for those who wish to celebrate it with crackers. The more we teach our children to build this tolerance muscle, the farther we can get away from a society that demand “beef bans” and then lynches a poor man, returns awards to signify protest and gets outraged if others choose not to … and the list is endless..
So as the festive season winds up, let us remember the true essence of Diwali .. “When the lamp is lit, darkness is dispelled… Where there is light of knowledge, ignorance is dispelled.” Let us rekindle the spark of enlightenment within us and our children.