Yes, there is nothing like celebrating Diwali at home. I still remember everything that happened when I was a school kid.
‘Leave your novel aside right now and come here,’ shouted mummy. I dropped the P G Wodehouse that I was reading and ran into the kitchen. The sight of freshly palmed besan ke laddoo kept in large concentric circles in a large brass thali was enough to let the drool industry inside my mouth go berserk.
I said, ‘Can I have one?’ And without waiting for the necessary nod, went on to stretch my hand and pick one up. Mummy smiled indulgently and said, ‘You can have more… but later. It is time to take these platters of sweets to be distributed to the Kamras, Rishis, Aroras, and Seth ji.’
Yes, I remember the way these thalis were exchanged as a symbol of good-natured ‘we’re-with-you-as-friends’ kind of spirit. There was no ‘let’s-send-a-more-expensive-gift’ this year kind of one-upmanship which came about years later. So the day was invariably spent rushing from house to house with these thalis… and then coming back home to discover the thalis that they had sent.
The other highlight was the trip to the market with my grandfather on our Lambretta scooter.
‘Now which of you two is coming with me this year to buy khilone and batashe or sugar candies, phoolian, khelain, Lakshmi ji, Ganesh ji and akhrot,’ announced my grandfather.
My brother and I looked at him and remained silent. This wasn’t at all interesting. I mean, this list read like a dull pooja list and when you’re around ten, a list sans phatakas is not a list.
‘And what about phatakas?’ I said in a low voice.
Grandfather smiled and replied, ‘Yes, of course they’ll be there. The one to come with me will get to choose them.’ Both of us raised our hands. Both of us were finally chosen to accompany him.
Now more than forty years later I am sitting in my Study and those moments are as vivid as the kind of pictures that every smartphone today boasts of clicking. Yes, we had to work hard and carry heavy packs from the market… the truth is that we were given the lightest ones and the heavier ones were always carried by my grandfather. And anyway, all this carrying was only up to where the scooter was parked in the crowded alley of bara bazaar in Jhansi. We were enamoured by the more adventurous ones in the world of crackers then and phuljharis were the least interesting. I mean, we loved it when my father and grandfather lighted the rockets, the seetis, and the anars… while we just used color-flame matches and those little black tablets that created a massive ash snake and a lot of smoke. And before I forget, we also loved those dewar-bombs that looked like round sweets in a wrapper but if thrown hard on a wall, would create the biggest boom in the neighbourhood! Yes, we loved all the excitement and the noise that Diwali came with each year.
And even in later years I tended to rush back from wherever I was posted, to celebrate Diwali at home. ‘Nothing is better than #GharWaliDiwali,’ I always said. So we went there after I got married… and even after my son was born.
But one year, it was my father and mother who happened to be with us for Diwali and my father asked, ‘I hope you know what is to be done.’
Well, we did have some running around to do but managed to set up a nice combo of idols and pictures and a few hand-made designs that converted one part of an east-facing wall into a temporary mandir. My mother walked in and said, ‘Aha! This is certainly more than I expected.’
The pooja time saw both my father and mother beaming happily and it was then that my father said, ‘Ghar is where the spirit of Diwali is present. I see that spirit here. Happy Diwali!’
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This post is a part of the Indiblogger prompt during Diwali 2014
19 October 2014