I love Diwali; the slight mist in the air, the sparkling lights everywhere. It just makes me feel so festive and happy,” gushes Raveena Tandon Thadani. “I remember when I was young, we would have Lakshmi puja
at home on Chhoti Diwali. After that, we would light diyas at the entrance of our home, make rangoli
, and keep our door open to welcome Ma Lakshmi
. I learnt that tradition from my mother and still maintain it in my own house.”
For Raveena, Diwali has always been special. “A lot of things in my life have happened on Diwali,” she says. “My birthday is in October and this festival, would fall on my birthday. So it would be a double celebration. I would receive lots of birthday presents and Diwali gifts as well. So, as a child, I would be super happy whenever that happened.”
One Diwali in particular changed her life completely. “In 2003, it fell on my birthday. With the help of my parents, Anil (Thadani, her husband) planned a wonderful surprise for me. Everyone at home, except for me, knew that Anil had already taken my parents’ blessings, and informed his parents as well, of his intention to propose to me that evening. So, after the Lakshmi Puja, and the aarti, I saw Anil’s parents walk in. That surprised me a bit, but before I could figure anything out, he went down on one knee. As both sets of parents watched, he asked me to be his wife. I was so happy that I burst into tears. That was definitely my best birthday and Diwali,” she grins.
Even now, Diwali continues to be special in the Thadani household. “It is the only time in the year that the whole family gets together,” says Raveena. “Chhoti Diwali, especially, is family day. For Lakshmi Puja, both Anil’s and my family come to our place. All the children meet and light phuljaris
(firecrackers) and gorge on sweets. We then go to my mom’s house, following which we visit Anil’s relatives. The next day is for friends. We have them over for dinner in small bunches, or go over to our friends’ get-togethers and play small Rs 10-20-stake card games. It’s basically a time to meet friends, play cards and indulge in sweets without guilt. After all, it is Diwali, so the diet can be ignored for a few days.”
As her son Ranbir runs around playing hide-and-seek with her staff member, Yadavji, Raveena watches him with a smile on her face. “With my two little ones, I feel like I am reliving my childhood,” she says. “When I was small, all of us kids would get together in our compound to play Ram Leela. I have introduced my children to the same tradition. Every year during Diwali, we make a Ravan outside our house. It’s like a total arts and crafts session. All the kids get together to make the Ravan effigy and on Diwali night, other kids come over with their parents and we burn the effigy of Ravan,” she says, fondly remembering her childhood.