It’s a Wonderful Life — Diwali

दीवाली प्रकाश का त्यौहार है। यह कार्तिक माह की अमावस्या को मनाई जाती है। दीवाली में लगभग सभी घर एवं रास्ते दीपक एवं प्रकाश से रोशन किये जाते हैं।

दीवाली का त्यौहार मनाने का प्रमुख कारण है कि इस दिन भगवान् राम, अपनी पत्नी सीता एवं अपने भाई लक्ष्मण के साथ 14 वर्ष का वनवास बिताकर अयोध्या लौटे थे। उनके स्वागत में अयोध्यावासियों ने दिये जलाकर प्रकाशोत्सव मनाया था। इसी कारण इसे ‘प्रकाश के त्यौहार’ के रूप में मनाते हैं।

दीवाली के दिन सभी लोग खुशी मनाते हैं एवं एक-दूसरे को बधाईयाँ देते हैं। बच्चे खिलौने एवं पटाखे खरीदते हैं। दुकानों एवं मकानों की सफाई की जाती है एवं रंग पुताई इत्यादि की जाती है। रात्रि में लोग धन की देवी ‘लक्ष्मी’ की पूजा करते हैं।

I love Diwali! This is the only festival I enjoy. In theory, Christmas in New York is my favorite time of the year, but in practice, Diwali at my home is my favorite. In countless exams, I wrote the essay of Diwali and always got good grades. Lord Rama is my favorite God. I love his story, his flawless character, his eternal love for his wife Sita. Ramayana is my favorite epic. So, everything about Diwali is my favorite.

When I was little I used to celebrate it with full enthusiasm and energy. My father had a small business in a big market and Diwali was the biggest festival of the year. Every shop in the market was cleaned and white washed every year. Lights, flowers and colorful decorations used to cover every inch of the market. And on Diwali, shopkeepers used to bring their families to the shops for the Pooja. I also used to put on new clothes and go to my father’s shop. There we used to recite few Aartis but not a single one of us could sing. Absolutely besuri aartis, completely out of tune and I think we probably offended the Gods rather than pleasing them. It was very embarrassing and I really hated that part.

But after the Pooja, we used to burn crackers. A lot and lots of crackers. I loved that part. I can say with the absolute confidence that no one among the nearby shops burst more crackers than I. Anars, Chakris, Bombs, and more Anars. (No rockets though, highly unsafe in the market. Rockets were sent into the space during the night from the roof of my home.) In the evening, we used to do pooja at home and mother would cook the delicious poori sabji, (she still does that), and then it was more crackers. I used to burst crackers till midnight and my mother had to scold and threaten me to come down and sleep.

Birthdays and Diwalis, those are some of my best memories from my childhood. All the photos I have of my childhood belongs to these two occasions. After my father passed away, I lost interest in burning crackers. We still went to our shop, but without crackers, all I left was with the part I hated.

I don’t enjoy religion or festivals, but I love the spirit of Diwali. The lights and decorations. I’m lazy and I hate doing any work in decorating my home and putting lights or making Rangolis, but I enjoy going out and watching streets covered in the spirit of Diwali. And I love fireworks which lights the sky. I stand out in my balcony on Diwali night cursing people for lighting them unsafely but then I absolutely love the sight of them bursting in the sky in colorful and sparkling shapes. And even though I’m allergic, I love the smell of the smoke of the burned crackers, nostalgia I guess.

But the best part of Diwali I like is gifts and wishes. This the time of the year, I actually like people. The wrapped gifts in the market and the festive spirits in everyone’s face, is very wonderful. The city, I live in, is a very mean and cruel place but this festival of lights manages to casts a light shadow of compassion over it. (Though, as a caution, I observe people from a distance, getting too close to them reveals their true, indifferent, insensitive and selfish, colors.)

I love buying presents and sweets. I do it randomly throughout the year, but I go overboard during this time of the year. I celebrate Diwali with the Christmassy spirit, but that’s something I’ve not picked up from the Ghost of the Christmas past, this is something, I picked up from my father. The exchange of gifts was at best in the markets (pre-Modi era of course). Buyers, sellers, suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, shopkeepers, workers, and everyone would walk with gifts in their hands. Handing over the wrapped package brings smiles on the faces of both gifter and the giftee. And of course the Happy Diwali messages. I genuinely love people today and I love to wish them all the happiness. I spend half of my day going through my phone book and typing heartfelt wishes (No phone calls though, I avoid Kobayashi Maru conversations even on Diwali). The spirits of Diwali makes the world seem like a fine place and worth fighting for.

Although, spirits of markets are down in the post GST era, global warming has turned Diwali nights uncharacteristically hot, and the judiciary has intervened against the crackers but still nothing dampens my spirit of Diwali. It’s the best time of the year!

Wish you all a very happy Diwali and a fantastic year ahead!

दीपावली की रात को कुछ लोग जुआ खेलते हैं तथा शराब पीते हैं । इस प्रकार वे दीपावली की पवित्रता को भंग करते हैं । उन्हें ऐसा नहीं करना चाहिए । जुए के कारण लाखों लोग बर्बाद हो जाते है । इस दिन हमें यह निश्चय करना चाहिए कि केवल बाहर का प्रकाश ही नहीं हमें अपने हृदयों में भी सद्‌गुणों का प्रकाश करना चाहिए तथा यह प्रयास करना चाहिए कि इस संसार में जहां कहीं भी गरीबी, भुखमरी, अशिक्षा एवं बुराईयों का अं धेरा है, दूर हो ।

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