Today is Diwali, Mi. But none of that gangasnanam, Deebavali marundu, oil bath, sweets and the like. This year, we’re super low key. It is almost as though we don’t celebrate this festival. Except we did. In a very different way. This year, instead of the traditional things, we created a new tradition. We skipped the new clothes and Diwali purchases and opted to donate instead for a cause. The peace is immense.

Sury is a bit under the weather and it has also been raining rather continuously over the past few days, thanks to a cyclone warning on the Tamilnadu coast. We just had a quiet day at home looking after ourselves.

Also, we find it weird to even consider celebrating a festival when Vidur is not with us. We prefer to club them together for when he’s home for the hols. Makes sense, no?

And so it was just another day.

I couldn’t help musing over those days, years ago, when we would stay up until almost 1 am in the morning, preparing all the goodies for the festival. Then we’d barely sleep and be back up at 3 am to start heating the water for bathing. Next would be warming the special oil with all the Diwali ingredients – beetle leaves, rice, peppercorn… how fragrant it would be! I’d love to eat them! Amid much laughter and banter we would all finish our “oil baths” and receive our new clothes. As odd as it was, we looked forward to sampling all the delicious snacks we made. How much fun it was to sit together and do that!

Then at daybreak there would be firecrackers. I never liked that! We’d set off to visit relatives afterwards. I never did enjoy visiting “them” you know – right from the “happy diwali” wish, we used to be put down with a harsh response, as though we didn’t deserve to be happy. What used to be ironic is we would go there laden with tins of sweets and whatever else we had made and be treated shoddily in return. If we were lucky, we got to do some chores there. By the time we managed to leave, our hearts would be heavy and we’d try to get over it by the time we reached home.

Some memories just won’t fade eh?

Subsequent Diwalis were far better, especially after we moved away and lived in a different city. We felt so rebellious when we woke up at 6 and didn’t do much the previous day by way of preparations. Oh we bought new clothes but that was about it. On Diwali we’d make gulab jamuns and our signature maize flake mixture for distribution. Ah, distribution! How I miss that! These days we have virtually none. People pretty much stick to themselves. Lifestyles have changed.

That’s a good thing. I think you’ll approve of what we did today. Better divert our services to those that need it than those who have enough, yet are never satisfied – and keep finding fault eh?

Happy Diwali, indeed! I see your smile. Because this Diwali, I am just lighting lamps in lives.