For Indians everywhere, Diwali isn’t just a one-day festival. It’s almost a state of mind tinged with nostalgia as we spend the week visiting all our friends, spending time with family, and making memories that will last us a whole year.
And, that’s how I’ve spent eighteen Diwalis. However, this year is going to be different. For the first time in my whole life, I won’t be with them. You see, somewhere between growing up and moving away from home to achieve our dreams, we’ve become adults. And with adulthood, come obligations.
I won’t be home this Diwali, and honestly, I hadn’t realised the depth of emotions I’d be feeling. The gush of nostalgia and the pain of having to spend that one festival, which brings the whole family together away from them is making me wish I could go back in time to experience every Diwali I spent with my people.
Diwali in my house would be marked by total chaos in the morning, like most houses, which would eventually become comfort by the evening when all the people would get together.
For starters, my mother would be worried sick about the 1,29,372 tasks she had on her list. We’d be assigned tasks as well. From helping out with the dusting to coming up with the best rangoli design in the neighbourhood, these were the responsibilities I had to carry on my shoulders. Surprisingly, the rangoli bit was what I hated most. It felt boring, time consuming and I wasn’t even that good at art! Mom and I would have an annual fight over it every single year.
It was also the one day of the year where dad gave up the facade of being strict and turned into a little kid who helped us hide and eat ladoos and taught us how to burst crackers. Diwali was that one day that he finally let loose and enjoyed himself.
My brothers and I loved to distribute sweets to the house help and watch her face light up a little more than usual was the best feeling. For us kids, it was also the day we got to dress up in adult clothes, such as kurtas, churidars and dupattas. I’d actually look forward to the evening puja because I knew mom had got my favourite ladoo as prasad. And once the puja was over, we could go out and play with friends. My friends and I used to fiercely compete about who had the fancier fireworks, but our resolve to burst them all before we got back home kept us together.
I took all these things for granted, but this year being away from home on Diwali has taught me the value of family. This break in the tradition has made me realise that you can have a Shubh Deepavali only when you have your loved ones to share the happiness and blessings with.
I would do anything just to go back home and this time, I won’t even pick a fight with mom about making the rangoli. I’d just do it because I now realise how lucky I have been. I’ll tell dad that we’re not bursting crackers anymore because we’re now environmentally conscious and I swear I won’t even trouble my brothers over the division of gifts. I’d meet my friends and tell them how much I appreciate the fact that I have played patte with the people who taught me how to play them in the first place.
This year I’ve realised that Diwali can be happy only when you celebrate it with your loved ones, and also that the puja ladoos were not my only favourite thing about the festival.