Diwali -a festival of lights, which we have started associating with crackers too. Recent efforts by NGOs and schools have started spreading awareness about how we can still have a happy time celebrating without crackers. It’s a time to meet and and greet your old friends, relatives, sit down discuss and enjoy breaking bread together.
My early memories of celebrating diwali go back to the times when I was in New Bombay. Kids then used to wake up very early in the morning, take a shower and head out to burst crackers. I found it fascinating as a kid. My mother used to make chaklis, chiwda and ghujias too. I think its a Maharashtrian tradition to do so and share it with everyone in the neighbourhood. I was too shy so I used to take my sister along with me to distribute plate full of such snacks. Once Diwali fell exactly on the day of my birthday, I was still waiting for my dad to cut the cake when I got the news that it will be some time till dad returns home because one of the camps where Dad used to work was on fire, thanks to a strak rocket which caused it. Since then I decided never to burst crackers.
When we moved to Delhi, diwali suddenly got a new meaning. It meant markets that were lit up in fancy lights, and lots and lots of sweets. The shops in Delhi that time had 100s of sweet shops and it seemed they could do with a lot more. Gifting also forms a central part of Diwali celebrations in Delhi. You can spot many uncles riding with multiple gift boxes on their scooters or in their Maruti cars. What I did not like was how people competed while bursting crackers, leading to noise pollution. Thankfully few years later courts took care of it and people adhered to the deadlines for bursting crackers.
When I stepped out to work in Hyderabad, Diwali was looked forward to. It was the time when we would return home. I used to stay with my friends in Hyderabad, and all of them were from Delhi. Looking for good deals on flights (Low cost carriers like Air Deccan made it affordable those days) or even booking in time on train was good fun. I still remember those train journeys back home. Coming home in the Delhi chill was awesome, and then home food which I had missed, I would spend my time just eating home food meeting school friends and trying out new food joints in CP, that would have opened recently.
Now, finally having settled in Mumbai, Diwali is more about looking forward to some gujju delicacies 😉 . Visiting relatives, and meeting friends over dinner, going to Worli sea-face to just look at crackers bursting and highlighting the Mumbai skyline is a treat. This year we plan to have friends come over for dinner – what are your plans?