Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Missing Diwali, Lights, Sounds and Aroma

Been ages and I don’t know what has been stopping me from blogging. I wouldn’t blame it on work for I had always found time to write and not the want of events either. There had been some over which I could keep writing until I feel bored of expressing them in different ways! But today, the thought of day after tomorrow has pushed me to write this in a last minute effort to feel closer to the best ever times I had had back home in India, celebrating Diwali.

The only thing I like about religion are the festivals it holds. A reason to celebrate, a reason to unwind and feel childhood every passing year. It feels shocking to me when some of my friends tell me that they don’t celebrate Diwali because they have grown up. Is this how you grow up? To lose the celebration, the anticipation and the fun? And a few of them turn environment conscious and child labour conscious and stop celebrating. This is a baffling paradox. India is such a huge country with a huge socio-economic barrier. Let there be no blame game, instead there could have been support. You stop the purchase of fire crackers since the NGO’s shout that the majority of them have child labourers and if you don’t buy them, who is going to feed them anyways? So, why cant there be support and regulation and then everyone is happy! Instead there are these emotional stories, pictures and advertisement which makes you feel like a pathetic human being every time you light up a sparkler. Truth be told, I’ve never felt that way.

Escape from this feeling and then here comes the environment friendly part. It is ok for the government busses to emit pathetic gasses all around the year. It is ok to sell doctored petrol and diesel and even give emission clearance for vehicles even without checking it. It is perfectly ok for the roads and traffic to be chaotic which increases the emission and it also perfectly fine for huge trucks and lorries to roam inside the city limits during day time and most important of all, parks can be converted into IT parks, trees can be cut to make broader roads, lights and blarring speakers can be run 24 hours for political purposes. And now you have rules for a one day celebration to protect the environment. No firecrackers before 6AM and after 11PM and no high decibel crackers. Wow, the government really cares!

Diwali is one festival that turns every grown up into a kid. For people who realise this, welcome to the club. Else, thanks for reading until this! I used to love the celebrations in my apartment. Loads of kids in the age group, juniors to whom we were heroes and seniors who were heroes to us. It was perfect. 12 Midnight used to witness intense competition on who lit the first firecracker of the season and after the first one burst, we used to go back home to prepare in the more traditional way. Oil bath and prayers and then off at 4AM in the morning with the back of crackers, candles, incense sticks and matches. I love the smell of crackers and the color of my hands after an intense session of bangs and poofs. Sulphur and Phosphorus and burnt paper. Combine this smell with the ones emanating from several kitchens in the apartment cooking elaborate festival meals and you can get an idea how heaven smells like.

The first session of fire crackers used to last until 8AM and after that is a pause to stop the bursting hunger inside the stomach. I don’t know why, but the sweets taste more divine when eaten with the chemical smeared fingers :P Though for weakly immune people the side effects could be a disastrous stomach! The early morning Diwali special programs on the television were a treat and a time killer until the next bursting session would start. The day would be filled with visits to my grandparents house and if lucky, my cousin brother’s visit to grandmothers would coincide and creative naughtiness would be at the peak. New firecrackers would be manufactured by us by reverse engineering the existing ones and certain experiments have taken place that would rise several eyebrows!

I felt the same intensity every year, the same anxious wait for this festival and the same restlessness. This is my third year away from this festival and I miss it, dearly.