Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Goodbye to All That

Diwali is not my favorite festival. It’s too loud and ostentatious. It bares the social chasms.

But it’s not easy to not flow with the festivities. Good to spring clean the house and give it a makeover. Good to meet up friends, email/sms once-a-year relatives and acquaintances and wish everyone peace and prosperity. It’s great to see the maid’s face light up on receiving her new saree and mithai.

There is no denying the pleasure that was in new clothes; crackers neatly divided to the last bomb; the aroma of mathris frying; the tables laden with dry fruit and mithai; the special dinner of yam curry that took hours to cook and soft, puffed pooris; the kheel (puffed wheat) offered in puja and later fried with salt and turmeric to be snacked at unsnackable times or a handful soaked in the morning cup of sweet milk; and the batashas sucked through play and the wondrous shapes and colors it came in, in other peoples’ homes :)

But the real charm lay in the little beliefs. Making kajal on the big puja diya and applying it on Diwali night before going to bed because otherwise we would be born chachundars (bandicoots) in the next birth.

Leaving the front door open for Lakshmiji to enter.

Lakshmiji’s feet painted in alpana from the driveway to the threshold. One year, Vandu painstakingly drew the alpana pattern at carefully measured gaps. When the rice paste dried and we came out to have a dekko, we burst out laughing. She had put the two feet together. We jumped with both feet from one pattern to the next imitating how Lakshmiji would have to come. She had to wash the whole thing and make it again.

But the winds of change were already blowing. As a kid, I heard mum’s younger brother ask her, ‘Diddi, where is that sweet you make – the half moons filled with sweet stuffing?’ I should have guessed then. Everyone was slowly forgetting – and not just gujhiya.

I’m sure the little ones who came knocking for trick-or-treat some days back would love to sit up late nights listening to the fable of King Hima and the jewels his wife piled at the doorway to dazzle and confuse Yama or the great churning of the oceans from which Goddess Lakshmi emerged as they watch shakarpara dough being rolled out and cut into perfect diamonds to go into hot oil and emerge golden here and then quickly take the frosty white coat as they are tossed into the sugar syrup there… slurp!

1 comment:

  1. Nostaliga! Nostalgia! It's got that wonderful quality of stretching baaaaccck in time and creeping up slowly on you (goosebumps and all), making you relive everything again and finishing it all with a wonderful smile! :) Not only did your memories make you relive your happy moments, but just made me go through all the above feelings! Thanks and have a happy diwali all 3 of you! Lots of love