While growing up in Mumbai, there was a time when our house would be flooded with Diwali greeting cards. There was no excuse for anyone not to give the traditional Diwali bonus to the postman, house help and drivers. The preparations start a month in advance and everyone is excited for the festival. Diwali is also known as the festival of lights and marks the celebration of a deity’s return to Ayodhya, after 14 years of exile.
I do miss the fun and frolic of the festival season that I grew up with, towards onset of Diwali. In the UAE, we celebrate the occasion in our little way, because I don’t want my children to miss out on all the fun I had while growing up in Bombay.
I make it a habit to do everything that I have seen my mother do. Like most households, I do a little spring cleaning. She has told me stories of my grandfather who would fill every hole of the mud house, so insects didn’t get in. I also decided to donate some of my very good clothes and shoes to charity so that someone who needs these items can use them, and send good wishes my way.
Being a full time working mother, I get tired and my back hurts after making the different traditional sweets for the occasion, but it adds to the festivities and makes it worth it. I do the customary prayers and decorate our entrance to the flat with colorful rangoli (sand art). I also light oil dias (lights) so that there is positivity around. I make it a point to make the sweets with ingredients I get from India.
The day begins with my children wearing Indian clothes and the exchanging of sweets with friends and family. Every new dish that is made, I make it a point to offer the first one to the good lord, who has blessed us with a good life. Interestingly I learnd from some people I my village that a small part of the food we make is to be left for the ‘spirits in the woods’.
While Diwali is a celebration of good over evil, we try and incorporate this value among my children. We also believe in having a noise-free Diwali, since fire crackers pollute the environment and the noise effects the stray and the old persons. I hope the spirit of Diwali is forever and helps spread love and not war.
- The reader is a resident of Dubai