Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Diwali Homecoming

Shubh Deepavali
 So, here. The festive season begins with full gusto from tomorrow. A little prelude to this Great Indian Festive Season is provided by the Dussehra, Diwali sets the pace, and all the brightness, gaiety, and celebratory fervor finally culminates into the arrival of a brand new year, heralding with itself brand new hopes and aspirations. I especially wait for this time of the year- when the weather is perfect, the mood is happy and time is ripe to rekindle old associations. Visiting relatives, calling up friends and exchanging gifts- besides the pooja, these happen to be my favorite aspects of Deepawali. However, since the past few years, as I have been gaining consciousness, I have also witnessed a marked decline in what was supposed to be the very purpose of these festivals- togetherness.

The morning of my Chhoti Diwali began with a text, not from a kith-or-kin, but from my efficient mobile service provider. The information intended for my perusal was that the standard rates of smsing would apply on 25th and 26th October, and it being the auspicious festival of lights, the upper ceiling on number or sms per day would not apply. Wonderful. This meant that more messages than I expected would be coming my way. And this, is not a very welcome thought for me.

I am not much of a texting person. True, I send out a lot of texts, but they are the last ditch attempts at keeping in touch with people who are too busy to make/receive calls, and way to busy to find time for more personal interactions. We are so preoccupied in life with I don't know what that even festivals are not spared the brunt of our busy schedules and our new age techniques of keeping up. Diwali, Holi or Christmas- the way we share wishes and happiness is by sending texts. Corrections- not sending, but 'forwarding' texts, in bulk. This serves as the perfect death of any personal touch, any warmth which is intended to be conveyed. I on my part (and a few other people like me, who I hope do exist) only cursorily glance at these texts. What I do read with a smile are the names of people forwarding me those texts. Rudely enough, I do not always reply back. Cutely enough, I call as many of them as I can. Not everyone picks up- the poojas, the socializing, cracker bursting keeps them busy. Everyone I have not been able to reach out are finally texted- and I type and send texts, not forward them. Somehow, I can't bring myself to.

There was a time when cards labelled 'Season's Greetings' would be delivered by the postman on our door, and a corner in the house was reserved for displaying these greetings. They were tangible, not like the e-cards which have an expiry of 15 days from the date of sending. Each person was wished personally, either through a warm hug, or a chirpy greeting over the phone. Diwali wishes were not posted perfunctorily on one's status for the world to itself take notice of. It is all very sad, especially for people like me, for whom keeping up with the pace of the progressive deterioration in relationships is a daunting task. Our families mandatorily command our presence; and what is not mandatory is easily ignored.

When in tenth standard, there was this particular question in English literature which used to be important from the board exam point of view. "Festivals keep humanity afloat. Justify." This was supposed to be answered with reference to A Christmas Carol, the last chapter in our English text book. It might appear naive, me ruminating upon what I did write as a high scoring answer in an internal exam, but all the points I argued are seeming more valid today than ever. Festivals are really about coming together, taking out time to do those things which the usual drill of life forbids us from doing. And I do not allude towards mindless partying in the least. Deepawali, in particular, is a festival which celebrates the homecoming, the re-union of our greatest mythological hero, Rama with his kingdom- akin to his extended family. We would be blessed if we could preserve the original spirit of this festival; that of sharing; that of dispelling darkness, that of making special people know that they are remembered and cared for.

If not for my exams four days hence, I would've had a really busy day ahead. Beginning from my Nanaji, to my school and college friends, each one would have been called up, and inquired after. I will make a few special calls though. And wait for a few special people to call me up before I call them.

For all my blog readers, warmest Diwali greetings. Try and abstain from formal forwarding this season. Visit people, call up friends, get updates on their life. What better time than now to share those genuinely missed smiles. Be not crippled by the all-pervasive facebook. Nothing matches the happiness on the face of relatives you meet, nothing matches the ring of laughter you share with your friends over the phone. Take out time, light Diya's with your family, and this darkest night of Shravan, make sure you dispel all the darkness from you heart. Have a happy and prosperous Deepawali.

May they shower their choicest blessings on you


  1. I don't agree with you completely saumya. Sitting here in London and luking at all the status messages flashing happy diwali brought such a pleasant feeling in my life (which has become a problem set in itself....LSE is killing) and I could feel the excitement back in india. Diwali pictures uploaded by people were a delight and it was like i'm atleast virtually at home.

    And people do go to give diwali gifts. The excitement is all around but the mode of conveying it has changed. But we need to change with times. It may sound cliched but thats the truth.

  2. I do see your perspective Vrinda, but I do feel like going back in time sometimes. There are always two facets to anything. Moving ahead with times, distant people have been brought near (superficially at least), but people who were near have been distanced. Its not technology I curse where it genuinely helps, but at places where it serves an excuse. And we both talk from personal experiences :)

    People do exchange gifts, but the spirit of these festivals, of coming together is not preserved everywhere with the same care as it might be around you. I spend virtually all my festivals writing. Someday, I will change that.

    Nice to see your comment after long :)

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