So everyone has sent me a message. Well almost everyone. And everyone has wished me a happy diwali. I must say I have always been a bit confused about Diwali. Being a Bong, the Good for Evil celebrations should have been done by Dussera and as we wished Shubho Bijoya to each other we knew that peace was restored.
Now Diwali was more of Kali Pujo as I grew up in Calcutta. We burst the crackers, saw the really random dance steps at the immersion of Kali idols and accepted the fact that during this time someone will get drunk and sing on the streets. It was like a ritual. Someone had to get drunk late into the night and next day spend the hours saying sorry to the elders in our para. I think it was an accepted fact that some people will get drunk at Kali Pujo. So it was probably the only time, mom and dad asked me to be careful while I roamed around the streets.
The happiest memory of those days was that of counting the crackers that were bursting outside my house and slowly going off to sleep. It seemed as if somewhere outside, far far away, a hero was fighting a grim battle. And I dreamt.
I first experienced what Diwali truly meant in Pilani. Whether it was shameful display of money by Student Union Presidential candidates or whether it was the quite anticipation amongst all the men as slowly the gates of Meera Bhawan opened and the women emerged wearing their finest sarees, Diwali in Pilani was magical. But I think no one enjoyed it more than CJ. A true Mallu, he devoured the colours and joys of Diwali with childlike curiosity and I have not seen many enjoy a festival so much. He was more enthused about Diwali than anyone of us in the wing and we would watch the Mallu gang of 2001 walk together, the most well knit group I have ever seen. The best part is Diwali in Pilani was a festival of lights, a festival for everyone to come closer together as everyone missed their homes.
There are other memories and as I write they keep flooding back. Diwali 2002 was the first time when Moruchaya, the Bengali association became an entity by itself. We earned our laurels that Diwali. For the first time, the bongs gathered together to, well to be honest, burn away 1500 rupees of hard earned money. We were small and had way less ammunition when compared to the other groups but that gesture that year announced to everyone, yes we were there. Such is the power of symbolic gestures.
I loved the morning after of Diwali. C’Not would be littered with the remnants of the night before. And I would walk with my camera in my hand clicking the patterns on the ground. It would also be Bhaiphota and my 2 sisters in Pilani would actually take the pains to wake up and meet us in the Saraswati Temple and we would then walk to Blue Moon for an MNB at 11 in the morning.
But the greatest Diwali story is that of 4 young boys undertaking the journey of their lives for food that promised to be exquisite. But that is the story for another day.
These days like everything else, I miss the simplicity in my life which was there even a few years back. I have stopped bursting crackers since a long time and friends typically these days have the means to go back home. Diwali wherever celebrated is more about cards and parties and less about the innocent fun we had when we were young.
But then the Indian spirit for celebrations is infectious. On Diwali, everyone in Mumbai wishes you. And you feel no longer alone as you hear all around you - Happy Diwali Ji.