Last week was Diwali and the 5-day festival brought out the festivity for all of us. In my home, the preparations started weeks ahead. Deep cleaning was the first activity embarked upon and that began around Dasshera followed by buying new clothes for everyone. This time the kids were enthusiastic to wear kurtas which made me feel quite happy. I always settle for a sari for Diwali. Festivals are the occasions when I dress up in sari almost always. The regal garment brings out the best in every Indian woman and is almost matchless in terms of elegant appeal.
Being a North Indian, our Diwali celebrations start with Dhanteras when we pray to Goddess Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity. Coins are worshipped and the house is lit up with diyas. It is also considered an auspicious day to buy precious metals like gold and silver. It has been ages since I stopped buying gold jewelry for investment. Mum used to buy cutlery every year (I guess a pragmatic and light-on-the-pocket fix) and I carry the tradition forward. The husband and I bought some steel utensils for the home. That day, the utensil counter at the mall saw big crowds, all wanting to do the same token purchase for prosperity.
The next day is Chhoti Diwali also celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi here in the South. For us, we don’t do anything special. Just the normal pooja and lighting the diyas. By now, the house is well-decorated with lights and diyas. My mil did some pretty rangoli designs.
I made some yummy goodies like kachoris and dahi vada. Mathris were on the menu too. This year I did not make mithai (or sweets) at home and had to make do with store bought besan laddoos.
Diwali night is the mother of all festivals for us. It is the day for which we prepare so diligently. According to mythology, it was the day when Lord Ram reached Ayodhya with Sita and Lakshman after 14 years of exile and after defeating Ravan who had abducted Sita. Hence, the houses are lit up with diyas and lights, and celebrations are done by lighting crackers.
Diwali is also the day of Lakshmi pooja when we do aarti in the evening following the rituals that I remember. Then diyas are lit all over the home. We all dress up in our festive finery and visit friends exchanging gifts and laughter.
The kids burst a few crackers, just some sparklers, flowerpots and ground chakkars. With increased awareness, the bursting of crackers is coming down every year, and it is a good thing. In my home, a few crackers were burst on Diwali as shagun or good luck. Then we sit down to a delicious feast cooked at home.
We used to play cards earlier but with no relatives around and not many people in this part of the country indulging in this pastime, this tradition is fading away. A few of us friends did get together on Diwali night for some more fun and chatter.
Thus wound up Diwali for my family. The next two days are celebrated for Govardhan pooja and Bhai Dooj. Since my brother is not around, I have not been celebrating this day apart from sending wishes and doing pooja.
Just like the flicker of the akhand diya that is lit on Diwali night and stays lit all through the night, I hope that lights, laughter and prosperity continue to thrive in our lives.
Till next Diwali.
Do share if you celebrate Diwali and how were your celebrations?
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