Was driving back home last night and realised the usually dark lanes are brightly lit. Though the shops were shut but the trees around were wrapped with string lights. My first thought to this was — what is happening? Is someone getting married in this lane. Then, when I turned left, and later took another right turn, I found that every lane was lit differently and beautifully.
Now I was worried if every lane had someone or the other getting married and that would be the mother of all co-incidences. In a moment, it dawned upon me that the festivitive season has ushered in and the festival of lights is just round the corner. Oh yes it’s the Diwali week.
As a child, this was the week I used to look forward to. It was all about new clothes, fire crackers, meeting the entire family, touching every elders feet in hope of getting Rs 5 from them. And most importantly going back to my village to celebrate Diwali.Being born in a typical Maharashtrian family, we had days planned for specific rituals. The first day starts with ‘Pahila Paani-mahila’(first water- ladies –literal translation), where all the ladies of the house are supposed to get up as early as 5 am and bathe before the men in the house. I liked this as we boys could sleep for a few extra hours.
The next day was for the men of the house to the same ‘Pahila Paani- Purush’. We (3 bros) used to wake up at 5 am and run to the courtyard of the house and sit on a Paat [4" platform]. Waarik of the village (hair stylist cum masseur) would be waiting for us to apply few different oils and some powdery paste on our bodies. We didn’t need a scrub as his hands worked as a natural one.
My Grandpa was extremely particular of these things and he himself used to go to the market to source these special ingredients. Then head straight to the Nhanhi [large and common bathing room] to get cleaned up but before we stepped out, Aai [mum] came with a puja thali and put some 50,000 things on my face and shoulders and chest. We just couldn’t wait to get over with this to wear the new clothes. It was the show-off day, we ran to aaji-baba’s [grandma- grandpa] room to show the new clothes and take money to buy crackers.
Grandpa always looked at my clothes and thought I was dressed up as a clown and it took me many years to realise that he was right. Afternoons used to be a big family lunch with all the men sitting on the floor and eating and women doing the same later. Nights used to be the most eventful with lighting up dias all over and bursting firecrackers with all our village friends. Living life to the fullest. This is what a typical Diwali day in my childhood used to be. Days ahead had Gudi Padwa [new year], Laxmi puja, and Bhau- beej (Bhaai-tika or Bhai-duj).
Having lived all my Diwali life in my village, city celebrations hold no excitement for me. Having written this article, I’m all excited to head back to Latur. Happiness is where your family is. Wishing you all a very HAPPY DIWALI – (safety first).