A walk down the by-lanes of Mayur Vihar in Delhi is magical at this time of the year. Almost every flat in the DDA pocket is lit up. It’s a carnival here —illuminated sky a proof of how Diwali is truly the festival of lights.
This got me thinking: What does Diwali mean to me? Am I even supposed to even talk about a ‘Hindu’ festival considering how I have, of late, been brazenly categorised based on my religious proclivity?
I will, nonetheless, tell you what it means to me as a Muslim.
Diwali is not just a holiday for me. It is a time of festivities, a time where happiness is shared, and in abundance, with friends old and new. Diwali, like all the diyas and fairy lights, is bright and serene, contrasted by beautiful, oft vivid, and attention-grabbing fireworks.
The festive fervour is happiness for everybody, religious inclination unbound. The box of motichur ke laddus, a bag full of dry fruits, the whiff of fresh flowers... Diwali has room for everything carnivalesque.
Widows abandoned by their families light sparklers after offering prayers on the banks of the river Yamuna as part of Diwali celebrations organised by non-governmental organisation Sulabh International in Vrindavanon Tuesday. (Reuters)
But a particular Diwali I spent in my hometown, Hyderabad, will always be etched in my memory. I went to a friend’s farmhouse on the outskirts of the city. The trunk of his car was filled to the brim with fire crackers — from rockets and chakras to sparklers. In one of the open spaces there, we started bursting crackers.
Until early morning, we kept looking at the bright colours in the sky, absolutely carefree, not knowing how time flew by. I was with a friend sharing this simple yet memorable moment.
Perhaps that’s what I find appealing about Diwali — the simplicity.
Exchange of gifts, dressing up in traditional attire, getting the pooja ki thali ready, and of course, all those scrumptious delicacies – it is sheer joy and emotions that brings everyone together on this day.
Hindu or Muslim, Diwali is a festival for all. And no matter what anyone thinks or does, I will be celebrating the festival of lights, just like how I have since many years.
A devotee offers prayers on Dhanteras on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on Tuesday. (AFP Photo)