What with all the festivities and the constant celebratory buzz in the air, this time of the year has steadily become my favourite. It’s the time of a constant rush of things-to-do — pre-Diwali cleaning, small home decor changes, updating the wardrobe with festive ensembles… time always seems to be in short supply. From changing the wallpapers to re-arranging the furniture, buying new curtains to bringing out the best China, every Indian household gets a bit of a makeover to be at its best this season.
At such a time, I’m struck by how much we Indians love celebrating festivals. We save through the year to splurge in this season; buying new cars, electronics and furniture becomes an almost essential component of celebrating the onset of the festivities. While for some this is a time to upgrade to better technology and lifestyles, for others it’s a great opportunity to brandish their prized possessions. Silverware is brought out, jewellery is put on dazzling display, and swanky cars polished and put out there for all to see.
But, in all this wingding, it’s important for us to remember that this season is about celebrating the people and relationships in our lives. From visiting relatives to distributing sweets, and from paying respect to elders to giving generous hugs to friends and family, it’s time to show affection and usher in the warmth of the festivities. While the things we buy this season become important with the memories we attach to them, they are, after all, only things.
I may not remember the new dresses I bought for Diwali even three years back, but the memories of making rangolis with my sister and lighting diyas along the boundary walls of my house with my kid brother are the real treasures for me. The big box-fulls of crackers, the constant barrage of sweets, the brightly-lit decorations and the spick-and-span homes mean nothing if not for the bonds that tie us all together. Diwali at home means all of those things and more to me. It’s about my mother’s incessant prodding to clean my room before the onset of the festivities, bursting crackers and playing cards with cousins till the wee hours of morning, stories of Ramayana retold by my grandmother year after year, visiting close family the day after the festivities and gorging on authentic Rajasthani food through it all. Festivals are about bringing out the child in us and letting our spirits soar high with all the celebrations. Old and new, close and distant, it’s our friends and families that make the foundation of our lives. This is a time to celebrate each one of them and, as Maya Angelou said, “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”