This year the festival season went rather well for me. Being the home bird that I am, I did not go out much during the Durga Puja. My friends had come to my house on Shoshti, and I had gone out with my parents and Abhirudpa on Shoptomi. That was about all the pandal hopping that I did. The rest of the days I spent reading “Speaks The Nightbird” by Robert McCammon that Abhirupda had lent us earlier. And that was the best way I could possibly have spent the Pujas.
Diwali was a nice way to wrap up the festive month. Like every year, I made a rangoli on the ground floor verandah. This year I used gulal for my rangoli. Most years I don’t get gulal at this time of the year, but this year I had saved some from Holi. But this year I was not so happy with my design. I felt that mine had become a little coarse and gaudy. The ones I have made in the previous years were much prettier, like the one with only the lamps. My friend Shivangi had made a beautiful one though. Here are their pictures.
|I made this one last year|
|This one is Shivangi's|
|This one is mine|
This year I had intentionally bought fewer crackers. I don’t like the sound of any of the bombs. Even the whistling charkhi (‘catherine wheel’) bothers me. Neither of my parents is particularly keen on burning crackers, and in any case I don’t fancy all the noise and smoke they create. After finishing with the rangoli I went to Shivangi’s house. I took some of my crackers with me, and left some behind. At her house, they had organized Lakshmi Ganesh Puja. They do it every year on Diwali, and it is an informal family affair. I had never attended a Marwari puja before, and I enjoyed my first time. What I liked best about it was that there was very little pretension: the family members prayed for each other’s well-being. There was no loud chanting and ringing of the holy bell (what we call the ghonta). The faith was in their hearts, and they did not make a huge show of it.
What was even better than the puja was the food! Shivangi’s mother gave me a small dinner of puri and two different preparations of vegetables. There was also desert made of lentils! I do love Marwari food, and if some day I manage to learn how to cook some of their dishes, I might even consider becoming a vegetarian! After the very welcome meal, Shivangi, her younger brother Nikunj, her father and I went to their terrace to burn some of the crackers. But by that time it was getting late, and I knew that dad would be getting worried, so I called him up to come and take me home, and we managed to set off some of the fireworks before he arrived. While I was leaving, Shivangi ran to her kitchen and brought me a packet of Diwali tidbits, and I came back home with that much-loved gift held tight in my hands.
At home, I persuaded my parents to come up to the terrace to watch while I finished off the rest of the fireworks. Dad took some photos while I lighted the tubris (fire fountains) and the charkhis. Then he went downstairs. Mummy stayed back for half an hour more, as I desperately tried to use up all the crackers. But at last both of us got tired of it and came back even though some of the crackers were still left unused. When I was much younger, dadas, especially those of Abhirupda’s batch used to come to our house on Diwali. They used to light the fireworks while I watched. That used to be fun. But nobody comes these years, and it is boring to light them all by myself. I think I won’t buy any crackers at all from next year.
The skies looked beautiful with the real stars being complemented by the man-made stars from the rockets and other fireworks. Despite the unpleasant noise, I couldn’t help being mesmerised by the spectacle. The streets looked beautiful too, with most of the housing being decorated with lamps and fairy lights. I wonder whether those who live in the Americas and the European countries have such colourful and lively festivals. The only sad thing about the evening was the nagging feeling of guilt that kept reminding me about how much air and noise pollution we were causing. Our one evening of fun would leave permanent scars on Mother Earth…
That is all for now. This one is a short post, just to let everyone know that I haven’t got tired of blogging and forgotten about writing here! And do let me know how you spent your festive days.
Ps: My father was telling me just now that I should have written something reflective about what I feel about this festival season every year. I just told him that I don't feel anything much at all: nothing seems to me to be very out of the ordinary. People are being 'excited' about something or the other throughout the year; only the object of thrill changes, human manners (or the lack of the same) don't change. If this view makes me hugely misanthropic and unsocial, so be it.