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Diwali – Then and Now

Sweet childhood memories of Diwali take me way back to 1990’s. The school would break for Diwali vacation and we used to celebrate a mini summer vacation. The lazy afternoons dominated by the slight warm air were all occupied with helping mom in the elaborate sweet making process. My mother was a staunch believer of making all the sweets and savouries for home consumption and distribution herself.

Mornings were spent cleaning the house, reviewing the needed and not so needed stuff, washing the walls till they sparkle clean and last but not the least shopping for new clothes in the allotted budget. Like today, we didn’t have huge malls or even shopping centres. Nor did we have online shopping offers. The local favourite shopkeeper used to show his stock and my parents would bargain for the best price.

On Diwali day, we all used to wake up before sunrise and get ready for the ‘Abhyang Snan’. Visit to the temple was mandatory after the bath, followed by bursting of the crackers to celebrate the onset of Diwali. I remember we had some rich kids in our coterie who used to show off their clothes and variety of crackers. My dad never gave us a lavish amount to spend on clothes and crackers. We had to spread the crackers bought over a period of four days. Though we stayed in flats, my mom used to draw beautiful king sized rangoli to welcome the guests coming for Diwali visits. These small things gave us happiness.

After marriage (mine was an inter caste marriage), I learnt a beautiful tradition wherein the head of the family; in our case, my grandmother in law, would dab oil in our hair and gift us the clothes shopped. The beauty of this tradition was the love and affection that was so priceless. Today, children look for some costly gift like iPad or any other luxury which we as kids never thought about.The traditions and rituals that we followed had a certain sanctity about them. The hidden treasure of preparing for festivals as a family, the feeling of oneness, value for money and lastly the time spent together with your parents, grandparents and siblings cannot be erased from memory.

This is something that I wish is passed on to the next generations. Our kids are falling into the money and comfort trap. They spend the entire vacation glued to the couch with electronic gadgets and insist on going to malls. We should involve our kids in making sweets of their choice. It easier to buy sweets from the shop but nothing can beat making sweets at home, with your kids enthusiastically lending a helping hand. We should even today allot a budget for buying new clothes and crackers. Not to forget, our kids should be told of the amount and ask them to participate in deciding what they can buy in the given amount.

We as parents should follow the Diwali traditions of Abhyang Snan, temple visit and also dabbing of oil in the hair and blessing them with the gift of new clothes. With the concept of nuclear family prevailing in urban life, not following these rituals means children losing out on a huge part of our tradition. This will make them indifferent towards relations. It’s not that we should doubt our upbringing and propagate the joint family system but it is good to have the elders make their presence felt in the family and ensure the value system is strong.

In the years to come, if my children fly away from the nest to outside countries for education or work, they should follow these rituals only for the sake that it was taught by their parents and it was a part of their childhood. Even then, I would pack these Diwali sweets and savouries for sending through international couriers and my children would fondly remember their childhood when they relish these sweets. There is nothing worse than the loss of a rich heritage and tradition which we choose to let slip away from our hands by not following it. I am sure all my future generations will follow this legacy of celebrating Diwali with all these small bundle of joys. And I hope we change the Diwali celebration from Malls, Games and (Toy) Guns to the three F’s- Family, Friends and Fun.

After 12 years of banking experience, I chose to take a sabbatical for my kids and be an enterprising mother. I am a Bachelor in Commerce, Masters in Finance Management and done diploma in creative writing .Writing is my passion and wish to develop it further. My husband is my inspiration to all my aspirations. I am a mother of two sons, my elder being 6 yrs old and younger about 1 month old . I love travelling and writing about places visited and every thought that fascinates me. All this can be read in my blog Life Bytes.