Thursday, November 8, 2007

Happy Diwali!!!

This is our first Diwali away from Chennai in the last 10 years - away from home, friends and family, familiar rituals and the comfort of sameness. Our first Diwali in Delhi - new city, new customs.....why it's even celebrated on a different day!
It brought back to me all those years growing up in Mumbai, when we would be the only family in the whole colony who would be up before dawn, a day earlier than everyone else, lighting crackers in the pre dawn silence. When I moved to Chennai, it then seemed even stranger to have the whole neighbourhood awake before dawn, making it impossible to sleep late even if we wanted to!And then today in Delhi, it seemed weird to get ready for work after the puja since it wasn't a holiday here - and as the calls came in from friends and family with the deafening noise of fireworks in the background, we felt a bit lost.
But the spirit of Diwali takes over as always.....I was determined to make this a special Diwali for my 2 year old daughter, so I made some traditional sweets at home since we wouldn't get them here, got her pavadai chattai ready for her to wear and borrowing from the North Indian customs, brought out last year's Karthigai deepam lamps.
As she and her "best friend" bent over the lamps trying to help us light them and then held hands and watched them glow, it seemed like a perfect Diwali all over again. I guess it's what each one of us brings to it that makes this festival so special.

I'm just happy if I can recreate some of the simple traditions we used to enjoy rather than succumbing to the crass commercialization that is all pervasive today. And that's not more on display anywhere else than in this city which ties itself up into traffic gridlocks on Dhanteras with people making a mad scramble to buy buy buy on this "auspicious" day. How is it that we remember the legend which honours Goddess Lakshmi, but forget the one which celebrates the day when Yama was outwitted by Lord Hima's daughter-in-law intelligence, so blinded was He with all the wealth she had heaped on her doorstep, a clever ploy so that her husband wouldn't die.

But there are good things too - many children today are the ones who are pushing their parents to stay away from noise and air polluting crackers and those made with the aid of child labour. I feel ashamed to think of the packets of sparklers we used to fight over so many years ago.

So let's take the best we have - in people, in cities, in traditions and rituals - and make this Diwali a really special one!


sra said...

HI Miri, thanks for visiting my blog.

Cynthia said...

A wonderful sentiment expressed at the end of your post.

Happy Diwali to you and the family!