Reliving

I was six, I think. It was Deepavali. Preparations for ushering in Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity, involved my favourite part. Collecting diyas (terracotta lamps), immersing them in water so that they didn’t soak more oil than they burnt. Sunning them. Putting cotton wicks, oil. Placing them on a thali (a large platter with sides turned up) and waiting for sunset for Ma to offer Puja (prayers). And light the diyas.

Diya at Lakshmi's symbolic feet

 

But there was a part that I didn’t look forward to at all. I was frightened of firecrackers. Even sparklers, if you can believe that. But believe it or not, it is true. Thankfully, there were other attractions. Like diyas. The new clothes. The first nip in the air. Yummy food. Colours. Light. Reminders of love and joy.

Coming back to firecrackers, I had secretly hoped my parents and brother didn’t invite me to try my hand at it. To distract myself from sheer desperation to fly to Mars, I shuttled between the kitchen and the rooftop. The kitchen was the source of powerful smells of love. Puri, Kheer, Pulao, Aaloo ki Sabzi, Bara… Thankfully, Ma concentrated on a scrumptious dinner rather than on deep-fried snacks (except Puri) that would lose their charm the next day. The hot meal after the Puja was something else.

And the rooftop had diyas. The small bits of light that lit up not only our home, but also warmed our hearts with unequalled joy.

So, diyas had dried, were ready to be lit, Puja was done, Bhog (food offered to God. It is believed that such a food has been tasted by God, and is hence sacred) was ready. Was it time for dinner? No. How about a little hand at firecrackers, then? And I could’ve flown (to Mars, yeah). The sound of exploding bombs, the teeny bits of fire falling on my hand left me no choice, you see. But my dear, insistent mother, took my hand, walked me out, asked my father for a sparkler. And gently told me to hold it. “I am with you. I am holding it too.” I held the sparkler, shrieked with fright at the angry bits of fire on my childish skin. She held on, and I did too.Β  They have a picture of me, screaming in fright. But my mother, her sweet smile, gently holding on to the sparkler with me. We , or rather I, got through the first one. The next picture in our family album shows me smiling with another (burning, sparkling) in my hand. Joy on my face.

Why this particular Deepavali? I’ve lived and experienced 36 of them. This one is special for another reason.

Akashdeep

That was the only Deepavali Pa bought an Akashdeep, The light in the sky. A lantern, to give a more inadequate translation. It consumed my childish curiosity. It was shaped just the way the above akashdeep is. And it burnt away all my fears. Brought more colour than I could manage. For some strange reason, all of our subsequent celebrations were without any. Pa never bought them, we never asked about them. (Busy with diyas and firecrackers and food, perhaps).

This Deepavali, yesterday, I saw a small boy selling these. And got reminded of how all my other Deepavali’s have slipped by, without this light from the sky making it more special. I bought two. And put them up at our two doors.

Akashdeep, finally

And called up Pa to tell him how I neglected to ask for it all these years. How that one stayed with me all these years. And how this one after such a long, long time is my light in the sky.

The six year old has grown up. And has her akashdeep. And is no longer frightened of firecrackers.

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6 thoughts on “Reliving”

  1. Beautiful post — vivid and insightful. Isn’t it interesting how our minds latch onto certain incidents and hold them forever, while letting go of so many others? I have always wondered, while raising our children, which seemingly insignificant events would be remembered and which ones forgotten. It has taught me (I hope) that nothing is insignificant. Thank you for the reminder.

    1. It is really very interesting, indeed. There is no knowing which one will, and which won’t. Even today, when we sit together over a bowl of soup, or a cup of tea and talk of any of those times, it is quite amazing how each of us concentrates on a specific aspect, quite different from the other’s point of view. I guess one needs to see all these to create the entire picture. πŸ™‚
      About raising kids. Well, I am not a parent yet, but from my experience as a child, I suppose you can’t be careful enough. There will always be bits that rankle, despite your best effort (and regardless of how well you mean them). Sounds scary? Well the bright side is that small, positive things are equally effective to make children remember you will unmatched love for the rest of their lives. Quite a rewarding occupation, I think, Parenthood.
      All the very best with it. Your posts show you are doing a great job.
      And thank you for visiting my visitor-free space. You make me smile.

  2. I have known these as ‘Kandils’. Your’s is a lovely, peaceful looking house, Priya.. beautiful.

    Your post reminded me of Diwali last year when I was trying to get my hesitant son to hold a lit ‘phooljhadi’. Similar age, he was 5 then. He was watching me light the sparklers & enjoying by myself, until he felt like holding one on his own. I was so happy to see him take that step himself.

  3. πŸ™‚ That made me smile! He’s a big boy! And a wise one, too. You’re doing good, AIT.

    We call them kandil too. But used to use akashdeep when I was a child. I like that name better, somehow.

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