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Festival Markets:Nostalgic Memories of Diwali Celebrations

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Photo Courtesy:(Internet-Holiday Spot)

Year 2018 Diwali comes knocking at our door. Whilst doing the ritualistic cleaning of the puja altar and preparing sweet treats, my mind races back to childhood memories. Days ahead, my mother used to laboriously prepare big containers of crunchy chakli, a lentil and spice based savoury, murmura or pohe chivda and some karanji (coconut and jaggery filled pockets made with flour. Did my paternal aunt just knock at our door? I wish! Ahh..she was an expert, and humble lady who religiously came every Diwali to help Mother prepare Diwali Faral treats. As children, we would patiently hide behind the kitchen doors, taking in the aroma lingering in the air and hear the clatter of utensils and spoons in the kitchen,their exchange of friendly conversations and our ears tuned to hear the first call to taste these delicacies.

Here are some home made Diwali treats locally known as faral.

Home made Diwali treats

Time flies, bringing changes! This year my friends and I ordered some dry fruit barfi and doodh pak online, reminiscing the old time kitchen buzz. Plenty of faral on the local store shelves too, that have created opportunities for women entrepeuners to support themselves. This choice may be better than the factory packaged stuff. As more women are working outside home and for longer hours, a paradigm shift sees less time for cooking, cleaning, shopping at the end of their busy days. Other lifestyle changes include weight watching, diabetes and BP as people exercise less and use more gadjets at home.

Lack lustre relishing of Diwali sweets? Both yes and no.

Lighting of clay lamps and bursting crackers is an important part of this festival. It signifies light over darkness, good over evil. Traditionally clay lamps are made by the kumbhar the potter community, such a meaningful inclusive way of celebrating each person’s role in society and recognizing their artistic qualities.

Promptly, a visit to the market to buy new clay lamps each year,  old ones are discarded. Change is all over – push carts and vendor boys prompt one to buy traditional brown ones and modern colourful diyas in red, gold, bright green hues, decorated with glitter. Care for fancy, fairy, reuseable electric light strings? Hmmm… no oil, no cotton wicks, no support to social community!  

Changes are also in the beautiful rangoli patterns. These are drawn on floor at door entrances using rice powder and coloured powders, a gateway to creativity and bonding of family or friends to participate in the drawings. Childhood days were fun as we used to (almost) compete with neighbours who would be more artistic or who would wake up at dawn and complete the design. Later in the day we walked to each other’s homes to see how well the dots and lines were placed, which colour combinations were effective, how big or small was the rangoli. 

Contrast that with modern times: pre- cut Rangoli plastic sheets, plastic flowers, sticker Rangoli. Where is all that fun and creativity? No technology can fill the vacuum created by lack of social gatherings! Where are those discussions at the table for how to celebrate the festival and whom to visit and share our cultural heritage with? I moan…almost a death of tradition and culture as one moves ahead with technology and the women stepping out of the threshold.  

 Courtesy: happyshappy. Rangoli design

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Mother used to spend hours on her rustic Usha sewing machine, bending over attach lace or frills to our ONE yearly handmade ghagra or lengha. Diwali is a time to don a new garment, declutter and discard older ones. It used to be our time to choose a particular cloth material, learn to sew beads and tassels, learn to iron hem lines and even help Mother to thread the needle (at times as eyes grew weak). Great bondings, cherished gift of a sewn dress!

Well, you have realized now the ease of online shopping or going to the mall. Money comes as a plastic card – just swipe and transfer. Or head to your nearest apparel store, pret -a -porter-Fab India, Biba, Prakriti, Utsav sarees, Naqshi.

Is it just me who feels this societal change and diminishing interests in traditions and culture? ‘Change is the only constant’ …is the Law of Nature. See here for another post on Diwali.

What are your views? How do you celebrate Diwali wherever you live? 

Fancy dresses for Diwali sales

   May this Diwali bring cheer, Light and       prosperity to all those celebrating.           

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