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Friday, December 24, 2010

Now and Then: Diwali Down the memory lane

Diwali brings about a special ambience, happiness, peace, camaraderie within each of us. We are sure that readers of Cityblog are excited about upcoming Diwali festival. In special theme of Now and Then where we look upon what are the key points we remember Diwali throughout our memories since childhood.


History and Mythology: Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom of Ayodhya after defeating (the demon king) Ravana, the ruler of Lanka, in the epic Ramayana. It also celebrates the slaying of the demon king Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Both signify the victory of good over evil. Sociologically it was the time to celebrate four months of toil of farming and celebrating agricultural success. Historically Diwali has been celebrated all over India in various formats. Here in Pune it is spread over six days. There are historical references of celebration during Shivaji era as well as in peshwa era. In famine ridden old days of bristish empire, people needed occasions to celebrate and most importantly eat well. Faral items were made only during diwali in the entire year. Now we can eat Chakli, ladoos anytime. New clothes were bought only once a year in diwali Pre independence days saw emergence of cultural social agenda in form of Diwali magazines. Post independence crackers got prominence as well as cultural programs like music shows drama. In post liberalization era, cracker menace was identified and also a phenomenon called Diwali Pahat gained popularity.

Let us now highlight each phenomenon unique in its association with Diwali Memoirs for atleast pst 3 generations and current one.

Holidays: One semester is over and schools break after a Diwali party, for Diwali vacations of 3weeks to allow students enjoy diwali as well travel. Some schools give homework which is spoilsport. But that does not dampen spirit of chidren and parents

Nature: Rains normally subside (last two years being exception), Nature takes its own course. There is typical aroma of seasonal flowers and air. Mornings and evenings are chillier with day moderate. I am sure most people associate that aroma of nature with Diwali.

Faral aroma: Another aroma paves way thorugh kitchens all over Pune, is smell of faral items mostly fried. Chivda, ladoo, chakli , karanji etc. Chakli being king of farals as its success defines total faral to be good or average. We kids used to love tasting samples freshly made braving few scolds from parents/grandparents/aunts

Killa and akashkandil; Once we had vacations, we used to plan structure of our clay fort. It used to be a mixture of modern cityscape with old shivaji era forts. In one shot you can have four wheelers plying on road where shivaji and his soldiers used to be placed atop the fort and lord Shankar in cave with tiger. Clay idols were really attractive. Getting clay is becoming a task in concrete jungle. Its also time to make/buy an akashkandil or light to be hung from balconies/window. Some people do extensive lighting. That creates ambience.

Vasubaras: That’s the first day of diwali. Only part of celebration is puja of cow and her calf organized by some local politico. But it marks the beginning of festivities.

Dhanteras: Its lady’s Diwali. That’s also mark puja of dhan (money) and dhannya (grains): symbols of wellbeing.

First Cracker of morning: then comes the thirds day of narak chaturdashi. There used to be a competition where someone who lights first cracker of morning say at 4 am is winner. Nowa days cracker menace is identified rightfully so this tradition needs some bypass but idea is to maybe write the first rangoli or something.

Rangoli is drawn in every household on everyday. Creatively inclined are popular in Diwali

Abhyngsnan: You can associate Utne (multani soil), Fragrant Oil and Moti soap with this. All men folk are massaged and idea is to take bath before first rays of sun else you will get into narak (hell) .This was some threat for young ones .

Sarasbaug: After abhyangsnan, idea is to go the dev darshan or a temple. Sarasbaug was is immensely popular for its ambience. Everybody decked up in new clothes, a good sight seeing.

Faral with friends: On return, most families have traditional get-togethers to have joint faral where the faral quality was put to test. It also used to be marked with jointly viewing special programs on TV or some Marathi play VCD. I remember PL ‘s Varyyavarchi Varat on DD. Gone are those days.

Diwali Ank: getting to sleep in afternoon is must after early rise. Best way is to relax and read diwali special magazines. Good literary stuff.

Laxmi Pooja and Haldikunku: This is the fourth day . This is when goddess laxmi pooja is done. We can remember a lot of fire crackers in eighties and nineties where there used to be competition to light biggest cracker. Great noise pollution and decibel levels were really high. All lights were lighted up and ladies used to have haldikunku.

Diwali Pahat/cultural programs: Post liberalization era identified need of people to be involved in culture, music and drama. Thus a line up of programs was held and there was enthusiastic response for such shows. Nowadays these shows are held abroad also.

Deepotsav: Mjor temples, gardens are now lit up with earthen lamps in formation. It’s a sight to watch.

Padwa: This is fifth day. Here there is big lunch with a sweet dish. This also is time for husband to gift his wife. First diwali after marriage is very important and son in law gets gifts.

Bhaubij: This is sixth and last day. Now its sisters time to be gifted from brother.

Travel Plans: Diwali vacations had a window for those who could travel to faraway destinations like north /south or near destinations like Konkan/Mahabaleshwar. Also was opportunity to go to relative’s house outside town.

Cricket: Time to play and watch cricket as this new cricket season starts in Oct.

Charity: Some people do real good work to donate faral, clothes etc for needy. This angle of celebration has caught up.

There are some post diwali rituals like Dev Diwali or Tulshi marriage which are not so wide spread. But Diwali season and vacations end with bright Tripuri Pournima leaving behind great memories and leave us longing for next Diwali. Wish you very happy diwali and prosperous New Year.

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