Monday, October 16, 2017

Women not crackers make Diwali special

Take out the woman of the house from festivities and it becomes a cold, empty house waiting to be filled with happy laughter. 

A major cluster of our cherished childhood memories hover lovingly around festivals. And it was our parents, their extra efforts that made these celebrations so special for us. Add to it the innocence that didn’t count calories, fret about the logistics and then complain about the stress, these occasions were the most looked-forward-to. 

Festivals for most of us were not just limited to the day of celebration. Like any well scripted story it built up over time, kept us on tenterhooks, made us impatient with excitement before reaching its crescendo.

It would start with anticipation of goodies which would give an extra spring to the steps we took. Unlike the hedonism of the present that eats out twice a week and shops till it drops, our past had few excesses. Our parents belonged to the era that believed in rationing material pleasures. So eating-out, a new dress and shoes were would wait for special occasions. If we had just watched a movie, stopping for ice-cream on our way back was a sure shot way of corrupting our souls beyond repair.

It was during festive occasions that our parents loosened up a bit. We were allowed second and third helpings of sweet treats and a few more when Mom was not looking. Almost all of them were homemade and invariably made by her. She’d spend long hours in the kitchen while we danced around her like excited puppies.

Is there anything in this world that tastes better than fresh off the griddle malpua dunked in a degchi of sticky sugar syrup?

When she was not busy in the kitchen, she was engrossed in making alpona on the floor with ground rice paste while I’d squat beside her and watch her in mesmerised silence. Each festival we celebrated had her distinctive stamp –from the 14 diyas she lit on chhoti Diwali, to the bhog she made during Lakshmi Puja, to the paste of turmeric and mustard oil she’d keep for us in the bathroom to slather ourselves with in honour of the beauteous and talented Saraswati. Durga Puja meant weeks of preparation for the many competitions that were held at the pandal during the Pujas.

When you are ten, all you want to do is make your Maa happy. So you recite poetry with emotions you don’t comprehend, participate in dance-dramas with your face caked with ghastly make-up, play musical chairs even though you hate it, all in an attempt dazzle her friends and relatives with your unimaginable talent.


My dad’s role was mostly restricted outside the house – purchasing crackers, teaching us how to fly the kite, take us shopping for new clothes and be the supportive husband to his turbo-charged wife.

Despite her long hours at work, I don’t think she resented the extra hours she had to put in at home to make these days special for us. I certainly didn’t hear her denouncing rituals and fasting meant to be observed only by women as some patriarchal conspiracy against womankind.

Now when I think back I realise it was she who made festivals festive. Without her enthusiasm they would have been just another soulless day with us as passive observers.

So excuse me while I choke on my coffee while I try to comprehend the outrage on social media surrounding the ban on crackers in Delhi and NCR during Diwali. It was baffling to see social media crusaders lament on behalf of kids who’ll be deprived of the joy of bursting crackers.

They should know, SC was delivering a verdict in a petition filed to reinstate the ban ordered in November last year. The symbolism of three infants (Arjun, Aarav and Zoya) filing the petition should not be lost on us.

I felt like an ignorant fool for not realising that coughing all night on Diwali and waking up to smoke laden air in the morning was a much cherished Hindu tradition. And foolish me was under the impression that it was women and not crackers that make Diwali so special.

Agree that unlike our Moms, most of us may not be a stickler for rituals and have shortened them to suit our I-have-better-things-to-do lifestyle. But as a self-assigned imparter of spiritual values to our offspring, we do make the extra effort to be a gold medal worthy Mom. Festivals are a good way to familiarise children with our cultural traditions. Each tradition we follow has history, an interesting background story and a smattering of scientific backing. It makes us value our heritage.

Bursting noisy crackers and fouling up the air, disregarding the discomfort we cause to those with medical conditions, is certainly not part of our heritage. And landing up on Diwali night in the emergency section of the hospital because the fancy bomb you bought for 3k burst on your face is certainly not a much cherished custom.

Diwali, like any other festival, is an occasion to bond with family, make joyful memories and feel thankful for what we have. Soon these instants will become memories and proceed to pin themselves on the roll of honour in the hallowed corridors of nostalgia.

Take out the woman of the house from festivities and it becomes like a cold, empty house waiting to be filled with happy laughter, warm moments and frenzied conversations around the dining table. But take out crackers from Diwali and by god it’ll be like ghar-wapasi of a glorious Diwali!

Go out, admire how beautiful your building, neighbourhood and city is looking all decked up in lights. Make intricate rangolis, tuck in an extra kaju barfi and feel thankful that you can breathe a little more freely and hear each other talk.

Let’s not forget that Deepavali is a festival of lights and not noise. And if you’re still craving noisy crackers, here’s a smoke-free and yummy version for you.


Image from Google.com


Enjoy Diwali and let others enjoy it in peace as well.






30 comments:

  1. Yea, women are an integral part of all festivities. And if you really want to burst crackers, go to Pune or Bangalore where the wind and rain sweep away pollutants. Only those who live in Delhi know how it chokes this time of the year.

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    2. Yet many of them went ahead and burst crackers on Diwali

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  2. I loved the nostalgia with which you share your mum's memories. I have the same lovely ones of my mum, and I go all out to ensure that my kids have a few of their own. As much as we would like to point out that crackers are not a part of Diwali, they are. In my home, after doing Lakshmi pooja all the lights and diyas were lit and a few ctackers were lit as shagun. Always few. I remember when my mama and dad would light crackers and all in the family would gather and watch in awe. Never a fan of noisy ones, we did enjoy anaar, ground chakkars and phuljaris. And those are the few that I buy every year. Crackers are a mark of celebration and happiness abs I am in favor of bursting a few may like some of us do for any happy occasion. I have no issue with the Delhi verdict because I don't live there and I am free to do as I desire. But I am not in favour of bans of any kind. Also I wonder about the wisdom of one decision when larger polluters like vehicle use, crop burning etc. are untouched. That said it is only awareness that works on habits we wish to be reduced. And our kids are having enough awareness campaigns in their schools. Banning anything only causes bad blood. I do hope Delhi and NCR get the much-needed respite from pollution, but I don't think that it is only cracker smoke which is the issue. I wonder if a band - aid is being applied on a leaking pipe.

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    1. In a country like ours where breaking laws with impunity borders on obsession levels only strict measures work.

      BTW, the ban was not on bursting of crackers, it was on its sale.

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  4. Will agree only if you assure that the comma of the heading is after the first word and not the second

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    1. Since I didn’t spot any comma I’m assuming you meant coma.

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  5. I can identify with all you have so beautifully recalled about your mother AND your father's roles during festivals.Ditto here.
    Crackers have today become an unwelcome part of the festival.They are not as simple and safe as they used to be.Many use them to denote their status.Why not do without them?

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    1. I didn’t wait to find out. I fled to the hills during the Diwali break.

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  6. Nostalgia with the right perspective...

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  7. Women make everything special. Why to restrict it to Diwali

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  8. Women add delightful colors and flavors to festivals. Crackers and fireworks are redundant unless we give them a religion too.

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    1. I thought crackers already had a religion and saw champions of equality on Twitter demanding a ban of goat slaughter during Eid.

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  9. True Purba. Diwali is the festival of lights and not crackers. We ignore our health and ill effects of crackers to children health and scare animals. Your post reminds me of the sweets prepared by Mom on the eve of Diwali and true women take charge of everything to ensure beauty, decor and smooth sailing for everyone. Happy Diwali.

    Do read my post if you get the time:

    https://vishal-newkidontheblock.blogspot.com/2017/10/celebrating-emotion-of-diwali-and-its.html

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    1. I definitely will, Vishal
      Hope your Diwali was great.

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  11. Wonder women...only they can smile and bring smile on faces in most extreme situations...when things fall apart...they come and stand with you....only they have capacity to hold two families together.

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    1. Well, a lot of them too and I thank God for their existence

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  13. It has always been a festival of lights, when did we make it a festival of firecrackers? It should be as you rightly say an "occasion to bond with family, make joyful memories and feel thankful for what we have".

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    1. I think the day we realised we had enough money to burn.

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  14. Such a beautiful post full of nostalgia, Purba:) Lucky you to have a whiff of fresh air escaping the grime and dust of Gurgaon:) Late , to read this post but best wishes to you and family on the festive time

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    1. It was nice to breathe clean air this time.

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  15. You took me down the memory lane with your reminiscences. I need not repeat the anticipation built up over months, softened up parents, homemade sweets and our frugal excesses, the earthen lamps and humble toys, and the vacuous morning the day after the festival. They have all vanished like the steam engines from our lives. We might be on the precipice of riding a bullet train but it is certainly not in the same league by any yardstick. As for the brouhaha about the recent ban on crackers, when we allow ourselves to become a society driven by freeloaders, stuffs like that become the 'new normal'.

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    1. Our children may never know about the joy of simplicity and how less meant so much more to us.

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