India is the land of festivals- we have festivals through the year round. But, as a kid, I think no festival came even close to the air of expectancy and joy that Diwali evoked. Deepavali, as we call it, down South in Tamilnadu, was my absolute favorite as a kid.
After a decade or more, I spent this Diwali last month, back in India, at home in Chennai. [I was in India to do most of the sourcing and prep work for the big bang:) launch of Artikrti]. It was family time: my sister's family in Chennai with the twin girls, my dad, my second sister's family with their newborn baby girl had just flown in...I don’t know which was sweeter- reliving the moments of Deepavali after a long, long time or the savoring of the memories it evoked in me.
Nostalgia…your longing for things that ‘were’ the way they were can be special…. the excitement usually started perhaps weeks ahead of the festival with the family stepping out to buy the new clothes to be worn on the day. The sight of jostling crowds, excited shoppers, even more excited salesmen…. adds to the air of expectancy. For my mom and aunts the prep for the festival was perhaps as exciting as the day itself. Clothes bought & the shopping experience would be compared, shown around and talked about- a chattering that you cannot miss.A week to go and the homes used to be filled with the aroma of ghee [clarified butter] & elaichi [cardamom] and a hundred other smells from all the sweets and snacks that my mom used to make.
No, you cannot eat them all right away!! So near yet sooo faaaar away. You could only taste maybe, one of them but the rest of the sweets [and there were maybe five or six types] were for the pooja to the Gods on Diwali day. Only after they were offered to the gods as a holy offering on Diwali day could we poor earthlings be allowed to taste! Until then, all you had, was the aroma to savor. For me, as a kid, the excitement was all about the shopping for fireworks….oh, I miss that. There is nothing that equals the joy of going back home and gloating over the array of crackers, bombs, rockets, chakras and flower-pots [different types of fireworks] that you have in hand for ‘the day’. Now the smell of Diwali is really ‘full on’. You can’t wait for the day…