Diwali is the Festival of Lights. Every essay, every composition, every elocution in school about Diwali started with this line. And why not as the city lights up every year for this week long celebration. Falling in the month of October/November, Diwali brings along with it a certain kind of peace, a sense of hope, a feeling of camaraderie and friendship, a surge of love and emotions amongst family and friends. Whether the Diwali vacation is spent going abroad on a holiday or staying back at home, it a time that everyone really looks forward to!
The days approaching Diwali sees a steady rise in crowd in the shopping areas, where eager shoppers having just received their Diwali bonus are looking for the best deals available. Whether it is for a brand new flat screen television or a plain chiffon saree, Diwali discount banners are seen floating around everywhere. For me Diwali meant a trip down to our local store with my father along with my sister to buy our quota of fire crackers. Not being the one to do this activity on an everyday basis, our father used to buy us fire crackers by the dozen. Ten dozen sparklers, two dozen rocket shooters, three dozen floor chakris and the list went on and on. With great pleasure and anticipation we used to bring home our new ‘toys’ and fill up our large buckets that mum used to provide. Then every single day of our vacation which I think used to be ten days long we would go in our building compound with our buckets to light a select few crackers. Neighbourhood and building kids needed no invitation to join us as we happily shared our collection with them. I was a bit more stingy than my sister though, as I used to keep a few firecrackers hidden at home, away from everyone prying eyes so I could have an extra day of fun!
I also used to love going shopping with my mother to the Dadar circle shops just to see the stores glittering in the night with their wide display of twinkling lights. It would take us a good hour to cover the whole the area with Mum shopping at random stores to buy knick-knacks. Lighting up divas outside our house, decorating our balcony with disco lights and hanging out decorative paper lamps were all part of the Diwali tradition. The best day of all however used to be the actual Diwali day when big boxes of Indian sweets and dry fruits used to line up our house. Some to be gifted to friends and work associates of my father and some which were gifted to us. On that day Daddy also used to line up a whole loom of firecrackers covering at least three buildings and then light it up to create a cacophony lasting around 6-7 minutes. People used to wait on their balconies or on the road to watch this grand display.
Today I try my best to create a similar atmosphere at home in Hong Kong for my children who have never witnessed a real Diwali. I mention snippets from my childhood, tell them stories from the Ramayana, light diyas at home and also get them a few sparklers if possible which we burn quickly and quietly. Diwali gives me an opportunity to re-live my own past and also to build their present in the hope that they would one day have some kind of a Diwali story to share with their children!
Aayi Diwali aayi Diwali
Khushiyan dekho laayi diwali
Wish you and your families a very Happy Diwali!
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