Even as the entire India celebrates Diwali it is hardly visible in Kerala other than in a few pockets of the cities. Though it is the most important and a culturally vibrant festival for the Hindus across India, in Kerala it holds very little significance even though many of us have made Kochi our home.
I remember my childhood when we used to live as a large family and our home was alive with the hustle and bustle of activities where my mother and aunties used to prepare sweets and savouries 15 days prior to Diwali. Shopping for clothes for each and every one including all our employees was a must. We used to import the “Akash Khandil” or the star with a light inside which would be hanged at every Maharashtrian home.
The whole atmosphere would take a festive turn as days neared because we used to have all our cousins and relatives flock our homes since they all had school holidays in Maharashtra and we used to feel extremely frustrated by the fact that we had just one day as a holiday. The lighting of terracotta diyas was the indication that we have five more days to look forward to.
The crackers were the highlight and my father would accompany all the children to the cracker shop and there it was complete mayhem! It was like going to some wonderland of sound and lights even though the shop was a small cramped one and probably the only shop in broadway those days.
The rockets and the green bombs that made an explosion to deafen all was the most priced items. The minnows in the group would have to be satisfied with flower pots and sparklers. The brave ones had the opportunity to show off that they feared nothing by sending rockets right out of the hands and most of the time ended up burning their hands and not showing the pain fearing the real cracker from parents! On the diwali morning it was compulsory to have an oil bath very early in the morning with massage from mom or aunts which actually slowed down the pace of things because we had only one thing in our minds and that was when do we light up the first bomb to scare the neighbours sound sleep!.
The visit to the temple happened only when we were completely exhausted of the crackers or when my father used to give us an ultimatum. The whole day was spent eating all the mithais and snacks that used to be liberally placed all over the home. Sadly for us we could only get one day to be a part of the long celebration and always wished we had a weekend so that we could have more days as holidays.
It is nostalgic at times to miss all the colours and vibrancy of the grandest of all festivals, the simple fact that it always brought people together, families were celebrating it together. Times have changed and we hardly hear cracker sounds or the kids waking up with excitement. It has become a ritual now more than a celebration. Now we send e-greetings, whatsapp messages and just forward the same thing to all the contacts we have in our mobile phones and also to the ones we really don’t know. Ironically we have all been displaced so much due to jobs and business it is no more a festival that is celebrated together with the entire family. We cyber celebrate it now!
But there is always hope just like the light that brightens up the dark that someday these festivals will regain their lost glory or maybe we may need some alien intervention to shut down all the satellite transmission so that people start finding festivals interesting!