Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Festival of Lights - A Reminiscence

Diwali is not just a festival, it’s an emotion. The very mention of Diwali draws out a plethora of emotions and memories… Every single one of them a happy one :) While growing up the injuries caused by the crackers were something of an amusement to us, we used to go to school and sport the marks of a burnt cracker to our friends with pride. Much like how a warrior would show his battle scars! Diwali is the biggest festival of the year and its appeal transcends all boundaries. We say sport unites people universally; Diwali in India does a better and more efficient job. The glamour and the freshness of the festival of lamps are more powerful than any sport ever has been. Religions, caste, economic divide, gender… none of these boundaries stop this festival from being celebrated in gay abandon.

I live In Triplicane, in one of the prime streets as far as Diwali is concerned! I live on one of the mada veedis around the Parthasarathy Temple. Diwali on this part of Chennai is perhaps the biggest guilty pleasure for its habitants. My day has three parts and has continued to be this way for 15 years now. The first part involves the early morning rush… to be the first person on the street to burst the 100 wala crackers! The crazy waking up time (2am) , pestering mom for the oil ritual and then waiting restlessly for 15 minutes to let the oil soak in.. then getting ready and eating the sweets and savories and putting on new clothes… Ah! The mad excitement! You get ready hurriedly and just as you are about to rush down, you hear the first sound of crackers that simply break your heart!

Your spirit though builds up greatly and with all happiness we rush down as a family and burst the first round of crackers. The morning is spent with crackers and phone calls and the debate shows on TV (my mom keeps saying, we could as well watch on mute, we hear nothing anyway). The smile spreads bigger and the day starts to get lit up :)

The second part is the travel to our grandparents’ places. Both paternal and maternal. The travel itself is a roller coaster, much like walking on a minefield J Crackers light up and burst with ferocity on the left, right and center. By the time we cross the multiple theatres with mad crowds, the kids with frightening courage throwing crackers from their hands, the restaurants that have sparse crowds and the signals that are mostly unmanned and out of control, we would have had the most happening drive. When we reached our destination though our smiles widened. This is when we lived the spirit of Diwali. Every minute of the next 5 hours was a gala that is unique to this festival. A grand lunch, some delightful conversations, delectable meetings with our crush in the family, the scared infants crying louder than the crackers, our beloved pet that seeks some assurance that the world is not ending, and that nosy aunt looming around listening for topics to gossip about till the next Diwali… J We used to love it all and lap it up with fervour!

The third and perhaps the most defining part of my day would start by 6pm back at my residence! This is about the time that Triplicane shines in glorious light and explodes in incredible noise. Many residents in my street have kids working abroad. Everyone is home for Diwali and all their earnings are turned into crackers! The next 5 hours and sometimes even more are incredible! Crackers of every color, sound and variety are in full exhibition. Our guardian, our guiding god, the sarathy for Arjuna, Lord Parthasarathy takes to the streets by 6.30pm. On a normal day, he takes 30 minutes to cross our street, but on Diwali it takes 3 hours for him to cross us! Crackers explode relentlessly, the air is polluted to mind boggling levels (not that we are proud of it), the entire locality comes out on the streets, beautiful girls adorn the streets, kids run helter skelter, friends gather and scream In joy on the streets, cameras are out clicking non-stop and there I used to be… in the middle of it all. Enjoying, Dancing, praying to the lord and breathing in the smoke of the crackers and getting a sore throat that will last for a few days.

New friends are made, old insecurities are thrown away by some assuring conversations, love hangs in the air, parents protect us and keeping looking out for our safety, grandparents shower us with pocket money (Fall on their feet and get blessed.. with money and words) and the rain definitely shows he is around with brief drizzles and get cursed and chased away.

My Diwali has followed the same pattern over the last 15 years and yet it has been extremely fresh and new over the same time. No other festival brings in this much joy, this much love like Diwali. It’s the time when relationships renew and strengthen; it’s the time when we learn to overcome fear, when every burst of a cracker rids our heart of negative feelings. By the time the day ends in glorious fashion, our smile stays and it’s at its widest.

Writing this article has been so emotional and I would like to thank IndiBlogger and Pepsico for this amazing opportunity :)

Here is an amazing video from Pepsi that just reflects the spriti of Diwali in true colours! As I said, Diwali is not just a festival, its an emotion :) 

Happy Diwali everyone. If you feel like sending someone a wish, doing it here would be a great idea.  

May this Diwali, lighten up your life like never before! Stay safe, stay blessed, stay happy!