Diwali Memories

Being 22 now, an account of how Diwali has changed for me over the years and looking back at those wonderful memories is what this article is about. For there is one thing for sure – Nothing beats Diwali as a festival.

It’s the most magical time of the year. No matter how hard you try to stay away, you get sucked into the festivities (and no complaints about that) and by the time it ends you are soaked in the merry making, cursing away and wondering why is Diwali only celebrated for a day?

The time of the year is also appropriate to welcome the festival period. After harsh summers and saturnine rains (nowadays, it’s mostly floods or drought), autumn comes along and brings with it not just a change of season but the time of festivities. It starts with Navratras, Durga Puja, Dusshera, all lined up one after another, reaching its climax at Diwali and finally culminating around Christmas/New Year. An elongated three month period which provides an uplift to the Indian household.

Looking back at my first Diwali, which I remember, it was 1994 when I all of 6 years old was gripped by the fervour of Diwali. You are aloof to why it’s celebrated but you love that it is. The smell of the fresh paint of the walls, home suddenly transformed and aggrandized by the lightings. Add to it the shopping, toys, gastronomical delights, sweets (lots of it), crackers. Oh! It was infectious.

But all wasn’t hunky dory when it came to Diwali. It was a celebration but before celebrations it needed cleanliness. Now don’t get me wrong on this, I am a clean person (that sounds fantastic) and hygiene is my top priority. It’s just that when it is Diwali, the whole home was turned upside down. The whole order of the home used to get disturbed and for weeks the process continued, something which got onto my nerves and cribbing used to be my favourite past time. The outcome was of course the razzle-dazzle but the process, cumbersome.

One more thing which I remember – was that as a school kid I hated those rallies which my school took out two-three days before Diwali sending a message out to the community to shun crackers. Diwali minus the crackers was akin to fish without water for me. A file of me and my friends, holding out placards, shouting slogans “Say no to crackers” and the ill effects of crackers dished out to the public. In my own eyes I used to feel contrite and had a sense of dereliction when come Diwali night I was the one bursting crackers by the dozen. This affair of showing remorse and still doing it went on for four years.

Passing my high school and starting college brought – even to my surprise – a shift of how I viewed Diwali. There were the usuals – gorging on culinary banquets, decking up the house, basically get infected by the spirit around but shopping for the sake of it stopped. Plus the biggest change that came when I was in my third year of degree and I too was banning crackers altogether. I remember that Diwali, my father was flabbergasted at my sudden announcement and he was taking this as a big joke. He was sure that by evening of Diwali I would fall to the temptation (I could not blame him; this was how I used to celebrate). But you could say that finally the humdrum of a green Diwali – global warming, doing your bit for the planet, etc- got me. After the Pooja, the evening did felt empty but I reveled in watching kids of the locality doing what I used to do best. It passed by and to date; this is going to be my fourth Diwali without crackers.

And so it’s these umpteen memories which I look back at every Diwali. Every Diwali I go down memory lane and remember my great tryst with the festival. I try and measure my each and every Diwali with my childhood ones and always try to see it from a kids’ point of view. This year I am thinking of letting that child of yore take over me, of course sans the crackers, but no more cribbing and assisting my parents and elder brother in cleaning.

Aatish Sharma

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