I am seeing Happy Diwali messages everywhere. Emails, Facebook status, in person greetings, phone calls, they are everywhere. For those of us who are away from home, the Facebook status usually reads something like, Jessica is "Wishing everyone a Happy Diwali and a Happy New Year …… and is missing home". Missing home? I am sure you do Jessica. I am definitely missing home myself. So why would we miss home so much today?
Diwali is celebrated for 3/4 days and the number of days very year to year. I guess, most people celebrate the second day of Diwali but for me, the memories of the first day are most cherished.
I just thought of reflecting back on what Diwali was like back then, back when I was a kid.
I used to get two new pairs of clothes every year. First on my birthday and the second time, on Diwali. This was one of the main reasons why I used to wait eagerly for Diwali. New set of clothes. I remember how I used to go shopping for clothes to Goyal Shopping Center and the other stores around Borivali station. I still remember my mom bargaining for clothes and the expression on her face as she got money from her purse to pay the shopkeeper and told me "This time, we’ve bought you such expensive clothes, let’s not buy too may firecrackers". She really said that. I still remember the one time when, for a change, my dad took me clothes shopping and he actually bought me a Rs. 175 t-shirt. It was indeed the most expensive t-shirt I had ever bought and to top that my dad just said it was expensive and did not mention about cutting the expenses on firecrackers. I was so happy!! 🙂
After the clothes shopping was done, it was time for my mom to make us Diwali-snacks (faral is the Marathi word and the word Diwali-snacks can never bring the memories that the word faral brings). I used to "help" my mom make them. My job was basically to box the laddus and chakalis and sometimes to make chakalis. I helped her with the greed to eat some of those snacks while they were steaming hot. While I "helped" her, feasting on the sweets, snacks and my mom kept shaping the laddus from the steaming hot floor and shooing me away and telling me not to eat the as they will get over before Diwali. And many-a-times, they did and she made more. Yum! 🙂
Third thing that went into the preparations was shopping for firecrackers. I remember having all those discussions with my friends about which were the cool crackers that year. Haddi (my best friend) and me, we used to get Rs 100 each to shop for crackers. We had to decide on where to buy them from and what to buy. Rs 100 were never enough and we could never ever buy one of those fancy crackers. If we got lucky, we would get to go Rs 20 over the budget. 🙂 Once we got the crackers, we would divide them into 3/4 parts based on the number of Diwali days that year. We had separate bags for each day and we would usually try to save more for the last day. 🙂
Amongst all these exciting things to do in preparations, there were also some boring things we had to do, like, cleaning the house and putting up lights and the lantern. ha ha. It was difficult to climb on the stool and put those things up. Aah, let me talk about the exciting stuff now. 🙂
The first day of Diwali, was special. It’s called Pehli angol in Marathi, which means literally, "First bath". We had to get up before the sunrise. That was a big task for me usually as I would have usually had a sleepless night with the excitement of new clothes, crackers and all the faral. Once I woke, I had to take a bath with utna, which is a naturally scented powder. It dint really give a lot of fragrance but it did make me feel like I smelled good. I never had a deo or perfume ever then, this was the only day when I would "smell good". We used to crush a fruit called karit, which is more or less like a tiny cucumber and planted a seed or two like tilak on the forehead as part of the rituals. A small prayer and then was, the exciting part. Wearing new clothes and then family breakfast of the Diwali-snacks. For some reason my mom never really sat with us there to eat, she was always more busy making all the arrangements. I wish she joined. I dint really have to fight with my sisters for the Diwali snacks, lol, they just let me have more than my share. All this happened before the sunrise. Just about sunrise time, I would hear some firecrackers in the building. It was usually Prakash (pakya) who came out first and I would hear him calling everyone out and wishing Happy Diwali. By this time, I would usually lose interest in eating cos I would be too excited to go out and burst crackers and show off my new clothes. Haddi would have come to my place by now, else I would go get him and then it was firecrackers time. We would all look at each other’s clothes and some of us would boast about what crackers they have bought and some would talk about how cool their clothes were. It was all good fun, we would talk like it’s the greatest day of our lives, try to savor every moment of the day. In fact, it indeed was the best day of our life…. 🙂
I sure did miss all that, I miss my friends. I miss Chintu’s loud voice and Parag’s flashy clothes. I miss all the jokes I shared with Pappu, Viren, Varsoo, and others. Most of em all, I miss my family and I sure do miss all the new additions to my families – my neices and my nephew.
Here’s to wishing them and all you a very Happy Diwali, miss you all. Happy Diwali!!