Hi friends, This year’s Diwali is around the corner. I wish all my friends and relatives a Happy Diwali. As things unfold I am drawn in my own musings and Happy days that are gone by. Especially the ones I celebrated when I was a kid and the special ones that were celebrated with my parents.
I could recollect only very few. The ones which my Paati (grandma) made it a point that I wear only pattu pavadais (silk skirts) for Diwali. The utmost care my Thatha (grandpa) had taken while we burn crackers. The Diwali preparations would start almost a week or month before. My Mom would go to Kumbakonam to purchase the dresses for us. We will not be taken along as it is in these days. We will not be given any color choice either. Whatever she buys would be final. Then it would be home made sweets and savories time, the week before. 3-4 days earlier to Diwali it would be the Crackers buying day. I still remember how my Dad would take myself and my little brother to the newest cracker wholesale shop in the town we lived and would buy us crackers atleast for Rs. 200/-. (this would fit a big carton) After coming home it will be sorting between the children. Each will be given equal portions of all the crackers and it will be our responsibility to protect them, and dry them further. My Paati would steal from this something and would preserve them for karthigai and even for the next year. My Thatha makes sure that I sit on his lap in the sofa, and just extent my hands to burn the Kambi mathapu. Other things are for the older men and servants to burn and we will be entitled to just watch the show. After I had grown up, they had the confidence in me and let me burn all the crackers myself.
On the day prior to Diwali everyone would keep our Diwali clothes in the Oonjal (swing) and it is the children’s duty to apply chandan and kumkum to the new dresses. Dinner usually would be vengaya sambar, urulai kari, pal payasam and fried appalam. After a small treat of crackers outside we would be rushed to sleep as we are required to get up at 3Am itself the next day.
On Diwali day my Thatha would get up at 2.30AM itself and the first thing he would do is to burn a long Saram Vedi, to wake us up. It would be my duty always till the time I married to help him in his work that day. First thing he would do is to do pooja to the cows in our backyard. They will also be given oil bath that day. Then, seated in a manai palagai, he would give each of us a handful of oil in the head. After a steaming hot water bath with seeyakai, we should go and sit in the same manai for Thatha to offer us the new dresses. After wearing them we are free to go out and burn crackers.
After I got married, I think I have missed these small petty things on Diwali especially. Diwali is all about food and nothing else in my in-laws home. I do not blame them. But it is the way they celebrate the festival. Crackers are a BIG NO in this house. And I miss togetherness here. All this 18 years have been just getting up a bit too early at 5AM, Men especially my husband will treat this as a full relaxing day. He will be in bed till 7AM and would not allow the kids to get up too. It would be me just ME until 7AM. After that they just will not go and have their bath. They will sit in front of the TV sets and start watching the umpteen numbers of useless programs. I will look as if I am the one who is without any work. I am the one who always coax them to go out and burn crackers before it gets too late. Even they don’t show interest in wearing new dresses. Everything is so casual, that you don’t like to celebrate the festival yourself. I just wonder whether this is same in every household. Or is it only for me? My husband will curse each and everyone who had declared Diwali a holiday as it is one day production loss for him. The crackers too have become costly affair these days. You will only get to buy a box of Kambi Mathappu and a box of Chakkar for Rs. 200/-. We have the needed cash, The best of attire and best of sweets and savories. But I personally feel we have lost out on family unions and bonds and all good things that come along on Diwali.The world has become so commercial these days even when celebrating a national festival like Diwali. I think everyone would agree with me on this.