Indian festivals are always celebrated with emotions and pomp. Unlike today, the Diwali some few years back was less commercialised. The school term from June to October was one of the longest for any student. As the month of October began, students would start counting days till the beginning of the vacation. I was also one of them.
Once the last exam was over, most children were relieved and also super-excited about Diwali. Those days, Diwali holidays usually lasted for three to four weeks. In the first week of the vacation, I would go with my mother to her friend’s house, where five or six of her friends would gather and first make a list of all the sweets that would be made. A minimum of 15 kilograms of ladoos and chivda used to be made.
Once the list was made, any two of them would hire an auto and go down to buy the required ingredients for the sweets. During the next three or four days, all the women and children would gather in one house and make the sweets together. We the children would sometimes help, sometimes play, sometimes sleep and fool around – but we never needed toys or any electronic gadgets to keep us busy.
The first day of the ‘Diwali week’ meant the making of sky lanterns or kandil for the society. It was usually made by all the elder kids – and the younger ones like us were mostly either in the audience or were made to run some small errands. Slowly, along with the cleaning activities, the doors of various houses would also be adorned with beautiful rangolis. Dishes filled with sweets would be exchanged. The favourite pastime during those days would be to go to distribute the sweets in the society for an entire day.
Then came the day of Diwali itself – when all the girls in our society would wear saris and go to the nearby temple. As school students, it was a big deal for us to be able to wear saris in those days. We would run around altering our blouses – and many a times, borrow long skirts or knee-length skirts from the big girls to use as petticoats.
Suddenly then, one fine moment, the boys would announce that there would be a rangoli competition and a ‘sweets competition’ in the building. Everyone would draw rangolis in every inch of space available in the building, and the ladies would enthusiastically participate in the ‘sweets competition’. The team of judges would consist of one elderly person, one working or college-going person (between the ages of 25 and 30 and was unmarried) and one high school student.
Those days, everyone enjoyed the festival – and once the schools reopened, we actually had stories to tell to our friends. We did not need expensive clothes or gadgets. We did not go to vacation camps because the relationships we had made up for all that.
Today, Diwali is definitely not celebrated in the same way – and I can only sit back and cherish these moments with tears in my eyes.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.