Saturday, November 01, 2008

My Diwali Experiences

My Diwali Experiences


Diwali-The Festival of Lights-The celebration of the victory of good over evil-There are a thousand ways to describe this festival. I recount my Diwali experiences at different stages of my life.


My first memories of Diwali are from the time when I was staying in Pune. I was around four years and we lived in a huge colony. It was called Ajmera colony and there were about 300 flats in it. There was a big ground in the middle of the colony and all festivals irrespective of religion were celebrated with great pomp and joy by all the residents of the colony. I was frightened by the sound of the crackers and would always shudder when someone would burst crackers. I enjoyed lighting flowerpots and the ‘chakras.’ I loved to see the chakras spinning and spreading light. On Diwali evening a lavish feast would be arranged as all families would prepare a variety of dishes and it would be a huge ‘potluck dinner.’


When I was seven I moved to Calcutta, it was still Calcutta then, not Kolkatta! In Kolkatta the puja season started with the month of September. A long list of festivals Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja, Diwali/Lakshmi Puja. In Calcutta, huge pandals are constructed and the idols of gods and goddesses are kept. The crowds throng the pandals to admire the beauty of the idols and the innovative designs of the pandals. There would be song and dance events organized by the various puja committees and it would be great fun to participate in them and cheer one’s friends when they would sing or dance.


When I was sixteen, I moved to Chennai. In Chennai, it is all about light and sound. The mind boggling variety of firecrackers coming from Sivakasi, ensure that every Diwali is a special occasion. In Chennai, the tradition of celebrating ‘Golu’ where dolls are arranged in shelves during Navarathri is an added attraction that sets the tone for Diwali. How can one forget cinema during Diwali. During Diwali there is a clash of the titans as big-budget movies of leading actors’ release. It is great fun to watch a movie first-day-first show; that to on Diwali, as the opening of the theatre and the bringing of the film cans are celebrated with the bursting of fire crackers and distribution of sweets.


When I was in college my friends and me decided to go on a road trip from Chennai to Pondicherry on bicycles. It was great fun and we celebrated Diwali in a small fishing hamlet . The joy and warmth with which the fishing community welcomed us cannot be described in words. We gifted the children there sweets and notebooks and pencils.

The evening was memorable as we burst crackers on the beach and played with the children on the sand.


This Diwali was special as we shifted to a new spacious house. Life goes on as another year is about to come to a close.


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