Archive for November 8th, 2010

Err…before you get any wrong notions, I refer to Spirit as in character and NOT as in Johnny Walker (did I spell that right?)

Last Sunday (the one before Diwali), we were returning from a relative’s place. It was pretty late and all the shops were closed. But there were lights glittering from balconies, awnings and gates. It was a pretty sight. The MIL mentioned how the city gets transformed during Diwali. The BF immediately replied saying that the Diwali celebrated today comes nowhere close to how it was during his childhood.

At that time, I didn’t much attention to his words…but now, for the last few days, I’ve been looking around. And I know what he means.

It’s just not the same anymore ūüė¶

Sure, there are lights…there are crackers, new clothes and sweets.

But where’s the spirit people?!!

That longing-for-Diwali feeling, the tortuous¬†wait for buying new clothes, the barely concealed anticipation of lighting crackers, the arduous¬†days spent cleaning up the house, the late night session of sitting in the kitchen helping the mother make karanjis, laddoos¬†and chivda….

You guys might feel that a  moderate muslim like me is ranting and knows nothing about Diwali.

But the fact of the matter is that, I do.

As an outsider, I observe more. And I see changes, not all complimentary.

I know that sweets are bought from the sweet-mart, that operation clean-up took place just a couple of days before the festival. That shopping was done at the neighbourhood mall.

And this is where the essence is lacking.

Because, the malls encourage us to shop all through the year. We buy¬†new¬†clothes so many times a year, that the novelty of shopping for Diwali is lost. It’s just another function for glittery clothes .

Crackers used to be¬†one unique thing about Diwali, but now we find them throughout the year. So it isn’t only just Diwali, crackers are burst¬†for Dussehra, Ganesh¬†Chaturthi, Mahavir¬†Jayanti, Shivaji¬†Jayanti,Christmas and in some locations, even on Eid. Not to mention, Independance¬†day, Republic day and Gandhi Jayanti. And every procession, every political rally, and yeah, also every baraat that passes on the road.

We hear crackers round the year.

I remember that the fire-light show in army cantonments were a much awaited event. We waited an entire year to witness the spectacle. We were full of awe, our jaws gaping, eyes on the sky to catch every rocket that burst its starry baggage.

I remember the invitation to friend’s houses…their families all dressed in their Diwali best, the mothers doling out sweets by the dozens, forcing us to down one more laddoo ūüôā

I remember the nights dad would teach us to light a chakri¬†or an anaar. It was an achievement of¬†sorts if I didn’t drop a phooljhadi before it reached its end ūüėÄ

I remember buying those clay diyas to line the balcony, painstakingly filling them with oil and adding a cotton batti to each.

I remember walking with my family around the neighbourhood without the fear of faulty rockets heading towards us or the jumping-out-of-skin, ear-drum-tearing fear of ‘bombs’.

I remember those holidays spent helping mom make karanjis¬†or chaklis. So what if we were muslims, sweets have no religion, do they ūüėÄ !!

I remember helping my class teacher make colourful rangolis outside the classroom with flower petals.

And now, as I held my two whimpering, sobbing kids close to me, the BF double checking that all the windows and doors were shut¬†tight and¬†the BIL making up stories to divert the twin’s attention, I wonder, what went wrong!

When did the “Festival of Lights” turn into a “Festival of Sound”?

Why did people pride themselves in bursting the loudest bomb ever?

Why is a “1000-ladi¬†bomb” an attraction of sorts?

This is not the Diwali I want to introduce my children to. Not the one where I fear for their safety if they step out of the house. Not the one where I dread the smoke they are breathing in. Not the one where they are too young to understand to close their ears and their mother ,who has no idea when the next bomb will go off, is inevitably late in doing the needful.

The only silver lining (or colourful lining) was the¬†presence of lights. Plenty of it…in different shades….all around. The one sight that the twins enjoyed when they were not busy crying their heart out over the noise.

This last week’s been rather traumatic for the two. They wake up whimpering when a bomb goes off at 2 am and I have a tough time putting them back to sleep.¬† I am angry and frustrated. Angry because this is not how Diwali should be. And frustrated, because, alas, I can’t show my kids any better…I can’t take them back in time to show them how beautiful the festival once was. How wonderful this festival could be!!

And then, the downstairs neighbour sends over a large platter of home-made sweets and chaklis¬†and namkeen¬†and karanjis and I take a deep breath……and thank God….a slight tinge of the essence still exists !!

All’s not lost after all ūüėÄ

On that note, hope you all had a safe and great Diwali (not sure about the prosperous part though ūüėÄ )

May the good tidings continue forever.

Ameen .

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