Happy Deepavali to readers of the blog!
I think you only recognize what events mean to you when you miss out on them sometimes. Most festivals have been touted as a celebration for extroverts, where they’re able to focus all their energy into getting together and making a lot of noise. This is especially true of Holi and Diwali. (Yes, this is a joke from a stand-up special by Biswa.) I am merely using it as analogy.
And yes, some festivals have negatives. Especially Diwali, what with issues like child labour to environmental pollution, to health hazards and animal rights – there’s a lot of stakeholders who are impacted by the manner in which the festival is celebrated. But at its roots, these festivals are all about spreading joy – it’s something I think the below Cadbury ad showcases the best.
All of this is being triggered by the fact that I celebrated Diwali evening working in my office and ordering food off FreshMenu. What sucks is that I watched YouTube on my phone while eating my dinner because I was alone at the office, and further, my office laptop had blocked YouTube.
I think the latter is reason to give me sympathy. The former is how work culture and corporate culture works – which definitely needs changing, but not something I want to highlight & make the central part of this post.
As I sat eating my food, I realized that Diwali held a special place in my heart because of the reluctance with which I joined in the festivities. Lighting and decorating the house has always been something my mother loved, and as a lazy person who really didn’t like obeying my mother’s directions without a fight, I used to bicker with her about decorations a lot, only giving way after I saw how pretty everything looked. This was true even for activities meant for lazy people like me – using electric diyas instead of physically lighting candles. Or even flicking switches and changing the flickering pattern of coloured serial lights we had at home.
This one Diwali I even did a photoshoot for my mum, ultimately getting one of my favourite clicks of all time – her looking into a mirror holding a candle.
I still remember my first Diwali in India being exposed to cracker/firework culture. I used to be scared of them as a baby, and then got used to them as a child, but never saw them from a close range because of how restricted their sale and distribution was in the UAE. Their use was supremely heavily monitored by the Government, and I believe at one point there were jail terms for lighting fireworks without authorization. In any case, when I first moved to India, I was quite taken aback by how crazy people went for these crackers – especially big ones, like the 1000-in-1, etc.
People allocated budget at the start of their month for Diwali festivities. They even drove till Tamil Nadu to buy OG firecrackers. I never got the hype because of the chaos it created – but participated as a teenager and enjoyed the thrill of running away after lighting something because it made me feel like I was a hero in an action movie.
Or a villain, come to think of it.
But that’s unimportant.
Ultimately, I stopped celebrating with fireworks because I realized I didn’t like them.
But all these memories came flooding back when I was at work today, and I felt like I would’ve loved reliving each one of them – because each time I was surrounded by people I love.
Today, that total was 1. I was alone in the office on Diwali eve. Loving yourself is an art, and I hope this Diwali, and New Year, you remember that sometimes it’s important not to underrate your own company. You can be your own source of entertainment. Just pretend your life is a sitcom and see where your brain takes you.
Or imagine people around you doing dumb things – including, but not limited to, spilling water and then tripping on it. Falling flat on their bum.
On that note, Happy Deepavali!