Meri wali Diwali

Meri wali Diwali

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Diwali to me has always meant being home. No matter where I worked, no matter how much the work pressure, Diwali would see me braving crowded trains, sometimes sitting through the entire 26 hour journey, to my parents.
Home, now is with the Husband and kids. The celebrations aren’t the same too. Just as much fun, but in a different way.
I clean (yeah I do that sometimes) and so do the kids. We buy pretty knick-knacks. N begins to think up rangoli designs way in advance and H always makes a late entry and wants to make one too. The diyas are bought, washed, dried and painted. The large ceremonial pot is cleaned and filled with water ready for flowers and floating candles. Gifts for dear friends are picked with care and are kept wrapped and ready. I go hunting for Ganesh-Lakshmi idols. In this part of the country solo Lakshmi idols seem to be the norm but back home the two gods were inseparable. For years I thought Ganesh and Lakshmi were a couple, wondering where Vishnu ji fitted in the whole picture!
Lunch that day is frill-free because cooking is not my forte. I try to stick to what I can handle – large chunks of paneer in tomato gravy, potatoes fried a golden brown, hot puffed puris and soft dahi wadas with tamarind-jaggery chutney. Basic stuff but it works for us. I make up by laying out the table as prettily as I can with my best china. Oh I also have the mandatory jimikand that makes your tongue tingle crazily but is must-have on Diwali lest you be reborn as a chhuchhundar
The husband fusses round putting up the lights and then goes mithai shopping with the kids. He completely forgets that he’s a diabetic and buys much more than we can consume. I pretend to be angry but I don’t really mind because I know we’ll be sick of them before the week is through.
In the evening we set out the idols and the silver coins, the flowers and the diyas. After we light the diyas we have a small puja ending with an aarti. I gave up most of the other rituals because I don’t have a knack for them. I simply cannot remember them all and I got tired of calling up my mom every year. I do try though, because it would be a pity if H and N lost touch with all that’s traditional.
After the puja we carry the diyas and place one in each of the rooms, with the hope that our home and our lives are forever lit up with their radiance. Then we’re off to visit friends, exchange mithais and gifts and watch the fireworks.
Later at night, we switch off all the lights and sit amidst the flickering  diyas and twinkling lanterns. We watch as the skies light up periodically in a shower of fireworks with H and N flitting from window to window calling out to come ‘see this one’. 
It is truly beautiful.
That is what I am grateful this festive season – that I can celebrate Diwali exactly the way I want. I love that I have complete liberty to weed out all I don’t like – the must-be-done-cooking, the craziness of spring cleaning, the long drawn out puja, the mandatory gifting – all of those things that stress me out and make me not want to celebrate at all.
That leaves me with only the good parts, surrounded by the warmth of family and friends, and makes me welcome Diwali with all my heart, just how it should be.

What’s your Diwali like? What are are the things you’ve done away with or added on?
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23 Replies to “Meri wali Diwali”

  1. This brought a smile to my face. Such a lovely Diwali you had with your family. Wishing you all lots of love and light – now and always. 🙂

    Pssttt..I can never remember the rituals for Lakshmi Puja either, and have stopped trying. We do our own thing, and our own version of Puja (which does kinda mimic the original, but not really) – but it is heartfelt and happy, minus the frantic calls to India for instructions.

  2. For somebody who says 'cooking is not my forte' and cooks 'large chunks of paneer in tomato gravy, potatoes fried a golden brown, hot puffed puris and soft dahi wadas with tamarind-jaggery chutney' is pretty awesome. I planned to make puris this time because I felt like eating it but then ditched the idea sighting too much of work. Chole-chawal is the easiest to make. I have fallen out on the whole lot of festivals and rituals since whenever I call my in-laws, I get a lengthy speech of to-do's to be done exactly like 'unke yahan hota hai', hence I do nothing. A rebel has taken birth who has her own ideas and concepts and does not connect with anything pre-established.

    1. Like I said to Vidya if the food sounds good it is my writing rather than the cooking. Oh and puris are easy – quick too. I get irritated with the to-dos too, which is why I like to do things just my way.

  3. Other than this year diwali has always been a start of NEW year for me .. this year was different never mind I am sure from next year onwards it will be back to norm again 🙂

  4. Diwali is THE festival for us too. I love the cleaning and washing routine that starts much earlier and then the shopping bit and lastly the actual celebration with food, family and friends. Oh, was not aware of the Jimikand and chhuchhundar part. I am definitely becoming a chhuchhundar in next life. LOL 😀

  5. I love the photo! I love that it is H all dressed up, gingerly lighting the beautiful diya. If the whole post is about breaking stereotypes and adding little tweaks to personalize traditions, then using that photo was a masterstoke! (Of course a lot of the credit goes to the handsome lad..for being so handsome! :))

    On a completely different note, it never ceases to amaze me that I seem to know more and more about you through every blog post than all the times that we've meet in person! Agreed they were mostly hurried 'HI's and hasty 'Goodbyes'. Still! I'm really digging the whole pen friends idea right now!

    My favorites part is putting up the lights! Happy Diwali to you and your family!

    Please save me a dahi wada!

    1. Anitha – dahi wadas coming up for you next time you're home. I love this pen-friend thing too, as you call it! I think some of it might be because both you and I communicate better in writing.
      As for that picture – nope it wasn't intentional. H is a copycat – he has to do everything that N does. He even makes rangolis – quite bad ones because art isn't his forte, but he does it.

  6. I want to come to your house, Tulika! 🙂 Diwali has been a flurry of activity at our place until last year, when Vidur left for college. So we just postpone the celebrations, since it is mainly new clothes and sweets/savories. I love that you did not mention crackers! I learned about Ganesh-Lakshmi jodi only much later when I was in my 20s… otherwise it was always the bachelor Ganesh. Of course, later I was surprised to learn that he had not one but 2 wives. :).

    Did you actually say cooking is not your forte? That sounds like a feast, Tulika!
    Love the capital H for the husband 😛

    A very happy Diwali to you, and thank you so much for joining me in gratitude! Hugs!

    1. The things you notice Vidya!! He has always been the 'Husband' around here. I didn't even think about it.
      Festivals are a lot about kids. H and N are so excited that we end up being carried along with their enthusiasm.
      If the food sounds good it just means I'm a better writer than a cook!!

  7. Diwali is one festival where I do the works. It is a festival very dear to me. So yes, I do a thorough cleaning of the house. We all dress up in beautiful traditional clothes. I buy the gifts for some friends. Foodwise, I always make udad dal kachori with aloo subzi on the day of Diwali as mum used to make. I also make dahi wade and some namkeen. I used to make besan laddoos but this Diwali I found a lady who makes great laddoos so luckily one less chore. We do Laxmi pooja as I remember how we used to do in our family. All silver coins are polished and all Laxmi Ganesh idols are worshipped. Light the akhand diya and then put diyas in each room, on the staircase and outside. Rangoli is made involving kids which we decorate with diyas and flowers. Mostly marigold bandhanvar is hung up on the door. Then some crackers are burst and we watch the other crackers light up the sky. Then we go to wish the neighbours. These days no taash parties. So yes, Diwali is beautiful. And like you said, customized in the manner in which it works for me and my family.

    1. I knew you'd be cooking up something delicious. I remember my grand mom and my mom sitting down and making all kinds of goodies that would last for almost a month after Diwali. It was fun to help out. My sister and I would sit with forks pricking endless batches of mathris. That was about the sum total of our contribution. The akhand diya stays on for a few days right?

  8. AH. our Diwali is even more toned down. This year, I am saying no to crackers for the kids. We can watch the entire display of our society from our window. WHy buy more? I love to put out rangolis and light diyas. I have been telling the men of the house to put up the lantern, but no use. I may have to do it myself. Rest, evening need to go for some diya shopping.

    1. Shopping continues till the very last minute for us. As for crackers I hate the fumes and the all pervading smell of sulphur or whatever they put in them.

  9. I can't cook. And so, it's just the usual stuff. A small pooja in the evening. Since both the man and I don't have any idea about it. It is just praying together while 'Om Ja Lakshmi Mata' is sung by Anuradha Paudwal on the mobile app. 🙂

  10. Our Diwali is exactly like yours. We have the suran chuchundar connection and my mum still follows in. In kurukshetra, this one part isn't there. But there is good food, sweets, and diyas. Add to it the fireworks outside and the nip in the air that this season brings. Love the time of the year.

    1. Oh yes living in Pune I forgot about the nip in the air. That makes Diwali perfect. You're the first person I've come across who knows the weird thing about suran :-). We're saved from a pathetic existence in our next life.

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