Undoubtedly my favourite festival of the year is here. Love the lights. Hate the pollution. Love the decorations. Hate the noise.
But the scales pretty much bend on the side of loving this unabashed expression of hope and thrill.
This time around, the celebrations are a little bittersweet. It’s our baby’s first Diwali so really excited about that, but on the other hand, my mother-in-law is not really keeping too well. The chemo is getting progressively worse with every cycle and making it difficult for her to function in a normal capacity.
So celebrations are contained and every Diwali-focused activity is counterbalanced with efforts to make her feel better or eat some more food.
On the other hand, these are also the reasons which makes this Diwali pretty special, in fact one of the ones we’re most grateful about.
Diwali brings out the work demon in me. And I love the food and decor aspect of this festival. So I’ve been in the kitchen for the last two days, whipping up gujiyas, samosas, shakarparas and more. And there is nothing like making recipes from your childhood that make you seek old-age wisdom. Between every stir or knead, calls are made to mom and grand-moms asking them for the proportion of flour to oil for samosas or that perfect consistency of sugar syrup for dunking the shakarparas.
The worst thing is, that while they are extremely helpful, often give vague instructions – “keep stirring till it’s done” (and thats when I ask when will I know if it gets done!) or “I use that small bowl for measurement so use something like that” (which then sends me off on a hunt to find a bowl that matches that bowl!) or “the sugar syrup will be done when there are 2 threads when you touch it with your index finger and thumb”.
Now I’m not a bad cook, pretty decent in fact, but these instructions always make me forget what it is that I was looking for in the first place (which I suspect is their power-play strategy to dissuade me from getting their secret recipes)
Happy to report though that the dishes were cooked and relished by the family, so I’m beating them at their game so far!
I also love decor and spend a lot of time hunting for the right diyas and lights for my rangolis, which as a practice, I’ve been making for the last 20 years and foresee doing the same for the next 20.
It’s therapeutic. And a small annual lesson in philosophy for me.
I love the drawing the designs and borders and then filling them with colours. For me the outline of these rangolis are like a symbol of the millions of plans we make through the year and colours represent the many efforts that we make to fulfil those. When the night falls and we light the lamps, that flame, it culminates all those efforts, and stands tall against the wind, either singing a song of celebration or holding a ray of hope.
And this year I’m lighting for both these reasons.
Happy Diwali Everyone!