|A Rocket on its way up|
The earliest memories of my Diwali celebrations that I recall are after coming to Kolkata from Siliguri. It was our custom to troop to my grandparents' home for Diwali. For a elderly person , my grandma was an exceptionally agile personality , who took the lead on how to light the firecrackers . Dad had a penchant to bring home the finest crackers from the Baazi Baazar , being held at the Maidan in Esplanade area of Kolkata. We, the kids diligently spread out the Crackers in the sun a day before Diwali , so that they didn't get damp. Many of our cousins came over at the grandparents' house, and it became an epicentre of fervent activities.
|Diyas on sale in Kolkata|
The evenings of the Diwali were a time where busybodies scuttled through the house with urgency , as we prepared to light up the whole house with candles and diyas. Adorning the veranda that overlook the street was a matter of importance , as , decorating it in an eye-catchy manner would ensure more people looked up at our decorations in awe. It was an undeclared battle with our neighbours , as to who could put up the best show as darkness set in. We, the kids , were allowed to handle matchboxes only at this time of the year. Many a time, hot molten candle fell on our tender skins , but the burning sensation was drowned by the sense of purpose that surrounded the event.
|A Tubri in full blaze|
As sunset occurred , and the last tinges of Orange faded from the sky , thus began the endeavours of our locality to simulate daylight once again, as every household dazzled with lights ,and crackers went off left, right and centre. We had our Rong-moshals, tubris, charkis, tarabattis, that were ignited simultaneously , putting up a spectacular show. The rockets that were sent up with great fanfare ,burst with dazzling colours . Some households in the neighbour brought specially customised rockets , that went up and burst into ignited messages . One such I remember was in 1996, when a huge rocket was sent up from one of the neighbouring buildings, which burst into the words , TITAN CUP CHAMPIONS INDIA , hailing the Titan cup victors , the Indian cricket team . Also sending us kids into a tizzy , were the parachute rockets , which , after bursting ,came down with a single twinkling light, attached to a small parachute.
After a mega spell of bursting crackers , we went in a huge group to visit the local KaliPuja pandals . Since the puja time was at late night, at most of the pandals, there were a lot of people , and we, the kids stared , wide eyed at the huge , angry figure of Goddess Kali . Our parents told us never to tread the wrong path , or else Goddess will get cross and punish us , and we believed them , fearing her wrath . Coming home after the visits , Diwali dinner was traditionally grand in Kolkata , with our favourite "luchi-mangsho" , served in huge amounts!
One of the most hilarious incidents occurred in the 2000s, when veteran Tollywood actress Shatabdi Ray became a neighbour of my grandparents' . Her window opened directly in front of our roof , and so, my cousin , called her out , "Shatabdi Aunty, won't you come out and see us bursting crackers?" She immediately agreed , and perched herself on her window . She was quite jovial , and didn't have the air of a celebrity , despite being a very popular face in the whole of Bengal . But as luck would have it, our rockets for the night were all from a rotten batch , and started 'misbehaving' from the onset. Instead of going up, they carved out zigzag paths rather horizontally , and their directions went awry . The first couple of rockets bamboozled us quite a bit , as they went just above our heads and died prematurely. But the third one was the naughtiest of the lot , as it went straight at Mrs Shatabdi Ray's window , and burst at her window grills . We were terrified , and Aunty got the shock of her life too, thereby shutting the window to go into the safety of her room . Afterwards, we all had embarrassed laughs about what had just happened!
The celebrations continued for two nights , but then , with the immersion of the idols, they died down gradually . In Bengal , we have the Bhai-Fota, or the Bhai-dooj event that followed Diwali , but that really marked the end of the festive season for us . The cleaning up of the cracker remains , and scrubbing wax from the grills was a job that took a lot of time, but we did them , with a belief that the celebrations would be even more grand the next year. Our school holidays used to get over thereafter , and we went back to school , with a lot of stories to share!
Nowadays , Diwalis are much quieter , which i feel , is apt , as it is essentially a festival of lights, and not sounds. Although i agree that sound crackers are burst ocassionally, the extent has come down, due to the restrictions in place. The onus is also on a much clean Diwali nowadays, with pollution being a major problem in the cities. LED light bulbs are in vogue as the principal decor in most homes, as they are cheap , and provide lots of variety, and are environment-friendly. These days, I derive pleasure in seeing happy children bursting crackers ....they remind me of my own childhood. The craze around having to ignite many crackers by myself has gone down a little (am i getting old??) , and the pleasure on seeing others bursting is quite prominent. That is perhaps explainable, with the first strands of silverware making their presence felt on my scalp, but i still enjoy holding a tarabatti, or making luminous shapes with them , by waving them around!!
Let there be light ....more light !!
Happy Diwali everyone!!
Happy Diwali everyone!!
|Used Tubris lying post Diwali celebrations|
written as part of the #GharWali Diwali campaign by Pepsico.
you can watch their lovely new film on #GharwaliDiwali here.