Till the time I started working, there were a few sacrosanct holidays that we had – and each of these had a separate association with a few special things within my heart. Eg:
- Summer Vacations – was for eating Aamras and playing cricket the whole day or traveling for 2-3 weeks to different destinations
- Christmas – the “do-nothing” holiday – since it was end of the year, you just felt like lazing around and doing nothing
- Ganpati – was to gorge on modaks and eagerly wait for the visarjan day when we had the entire family eat an array of snacks
- Diwali – we had a three week long holiday for schools / colleges – and the Diwali days used to be the days when for each designated day – we gathered in different places. Starting with my home for Laxmi Pooja day and then each of the cousins’ places for the other days. Being a large family, we had atleast 30-40 people come over and it was the one time when we spent time with cousins – some who you met almost every other week and the others with whom you caught up only during the Diwali time
Over time, sadly – the summer vacation evaporated (thanks, work life :-() … but the other 3 vacations remained
And Diwali – for the longest amount of time – remained and still remains, the most special.
As kids (and these were days when we thankfully social media was not around!), we were eager to compete between ourselves as to who had that one different phataka (firecracker in Marathi) type than the others 🙂 …
As we became teenagers, the phatakas gave way to gorging on different varieties of food (we used to get our local chatwallah to come and set up his shop in our home at times or get the local appam wallah to bring his entire array of pots and pans!) …
Then, on the Laxmi Pooja days, the evenings of cracker bursting gave way to the five of us school friends finishing the Pooja in each of our houses and then going out for long drives and having a gala time (over dinner of course!) … a new ritual got added!
Today, Diwali is probably the only time when I am determined to not work – we are all in different cities now, cousins, friends – etc … but Diwali is the time when we end up making new friends in our new surroundings. At a time, when increasingly – in cities, we are getting towards the (sad, for me) Western habit of taking appointments to meet neighbours or friends – Diwali (and Ganpati) is possibly the only time – when you can walk into anyone’s home – uninhibited, and wish them a Happy Diwali!
And as you walk out (or walk your guests out of your home), somewhere is the lingering feeling that new memories are added to the already fond memories of the bachpan ke phatakas and the teenage food and long drives and the light in your hearts keeps shining brighter a wee bit more and for a wee bit longer!
Which is why I guess – our Diwali kandils – remain hanging and lights shining till Christmas … when we move on to creating a different kind of new memory!