Happy belated Diwali and New Year to all who celebrate it!
Every year around this time (depending on the Indian Calendar) my family and me start preparing for Diwali. It all starts with deep cleaning of the house and when I say ‘deep clean’ I mean we clean things that have been stored away in the attic too! We dust the old vacuum cleaner that refuses to work, we dust the Christmas tree, we clean the garden, the outside shed, the car gets a good old wash too. Everything shines like new whether we use it or not!
Sometimes we get too enthusiastic- like my mum who last year got the Mr Sheen to polish the wood. She was trying to get rid of some scuff marks on the wooden floor while hubby and me were out. When we came back unknown to what had gone on – we both slipped! We did not fall but did end up dancing to some kind of in-voluntary moves which were last seen in the 80’s. We did not realise that this was the work of Mr Sheen- but we kept slipping whenever we left or entered the room! Finally my mum confessed that she may have sprayed a little Mr Sheen. What followed was me lecturing not to use that stuff on the floor and she should not be cleaning anyway all the while trying not to slip!
So anyway this year I hid the Mr Sheen no one is getting their hands on that!
After all the cleaning comes the hard part making all the goodies- the chakris, puris and the mithais’! What is so hard about this? It’s the resistance, the controlling of your mind to not stuff your face with all this yummy food! So this year we decided we will buy a few snacks and sweets and that is it! The reason behind this was very simple- us ladies end up spending so much time in the kitchen that we do not get to spend such precious moments with our loved ones. Also we thought we would save that money and donate it to charity or the time saved –spend it volunteering.
To me the festival of Diwali has always been about the lights, the brightness that comes into our lives and what surrounds us. Giving happiness to your loved ones (this doesn’t always have to be through gifts) although when I was younger getting money from the oldies was the highlight of this festival! 😉 The lighting of diyas (oil based lamps) is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge and peace into our lives. The lighting of these little oil lamps symbolises the destruction of evil and of all negative forces. So this year we are bringing this light to somebody else’s life by giving them the ability to see again- not just see the world but the people around them their loved ones – their partners, sons, daughters, their grandchildren enjoying one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu calendar. By providing better equipment to schools the young children have a better chance at doing well for themselves.
You see my mum regularly helps out charities in parts of rural India to provide free cataract surgery for the over 60s’ and also donates to rural schools to provide equipment like blackboard, books, stationery and clean drinking water. This year when I visit Mumbai I am hoping to do the same, unfortunately I will not be able to visit the villages but there so many ways to help. I know it makes a difference when they send back pictures of how the money is being put to good use!
By all means it was not a quiet one- we had sparklers and fireworks for Hriday- who enjoyed them so much and would stay up way past his bed-time to see the fireworks around our home light up the sky.
So this is my alternative Diwali and a start to the New Hindu Year’s resolution. What did you do to celebrate Diwali and how did you make it special?