I love all the Indian festivals and each of them bring back fond memories. When I say Indian I am not restricting it to only Hindu festivals. Deepavali definitely has a very special place in my heart and it has nothing to do with praying to God. It has everything to do with the season itself. Dussehra, followed by Deepavali, then the Christmas and New Year ending with Pongal. What more can anyone ask? Especially if you are in school/college this is like a long vacation time, right?
Babs, I wanted to write this for you, so you can see how your mother celebrated her Deepavali growing up as a small kid. These yearly rituals meant a lot to all of us and even today when I spoke with my mother we both recollected it and felt super nostalgic.
Two weeks before Deepavali, mother will be seen scrambling around trying to make sure she has all her supplies in place to make the sweets and savories for Deepavali. Mother loved making these so that her family could enjoy them. She made them in large quantities too because we had to distribute them to our near and dears! Then she would start her one-sweet/savory-a-day ritual. Mother would make, Boondi Ladoo, Murukku, Kara Seedai, Sweet Seedai, Thattai, Athirasam, Ribbon Pakoda, Diamond Cuts, Kaja, Somas, Badushah, Kara Boondi, Om Podi, and a few more to keep us busy with food for a whole week or mroe after the festival. House would smell like someone has been doing some serious cooking and I loved it. Mother would meticulously make the sweets and hide them from us so that we would not finish them off before the festival itself.
Then of course there is the whole deal of buying new clothes for Deepavali. When we lived in Trichy, we would go to Town and when we lived in Chennai we would in Mambalam shopping. There were deals and steals and either way you are robbed because of the festive season. Schools were also abuzz with all of us comparing what new dress we got and how much fire crackers each of us had purchased. It was a matter of pride and gossip in school.
The night before Deepavali was the most exciting part of the celebrations for us. Some of us would have already exhausted at least half of the crackers and would have slept slightly late bubbling with excitement. Sleep will rarely visit you this night because you are bundle of nerves and you keep hearing a random atom bomb or saram going off some where in the distance. Either way mother would wake us up early at 5 or 5.30 in the morning and line us up for the oil massage. One by one each of us would go through the ritual and be given a hot bath at the end of it. Fresh and clean we get to wear our new dress. Filled with excitement we will run outside to burst some more crackers only to notice that a soft drizzle has descended upon us. This happened every single year. Not just once or twice, but every year...Sad we would head back inside our home.
Mother will by then have steaming hot idli's and vadakari with sambar and chutney ready for us to gorge on followed by any of the sweets you choose to eat. As the day opens up sun would peek through to let us kids play outside for a while before Mother packed the sweets to be distributed. First the neighbors, a quick walk. Then to friends slightly far away for which brother would accompany me. Then father and I would go to friends house very far away by walk after the drizzle has stopped. I enjoyed these visits, we went to give and we would get too. The variety we enjoyed from everyone's house, the critiques, were all a part of the joy. This was always followed by a heavy lunch and a nap.
Once again in the evening filled with fresh vigor, all of us waited for the sun to go down and about six in the evening we would be out with the flower pots, the circling ones (Changuchakaram), the mathapu (sparkles), and of course the loud ones. We would be outside sharing our fire crackers with neighbors and be there till as long as we could keep our eyes open...before calling it a night...
I wish life would go back to being so simple. None of us went overboard buying the fire crackers that rules had to be made to ban them. People were sensitive and sensible those days. Nothing can beat mother's sweets, even today, even if I get the recipe from her and make it, her touch is what makes the difference. I am sure all of you had some fun experiences too...please stop by to comment if you can!