While my big city friends handle long traffic jams, crowded shops and malls, and frazzled tempers in the run up to Diwali, we small hill hamlet folks jump into our annual, ultimate party . The party begins two days prior to Diwali, picks up steam on Dhanteras ( today) and reaches it high point on Diwali evening. The entire town invites itself and the entry ticket is one big smile and a loud voice to shout out greetings to everyone else.
The market is closed to traffic and the one km stretch turns into a party promenade. Shops spill over on the street.Stalls for crackers, candles, candies and cute ornaments sprout on the sidewalk. There is this smell of pakodas and jalebis frying, as well as momos and chowmein being prepared for hungry folks. Tiny contests and lotteries have eager crowds milling around these enterprising shops.
And then, the big crowds at the utensils stores. Unlike the urban rush to jewelers and car dealers for Dhanteras, a small utensil is appropriate and adequate for our hill homes.
In my jeans and normal clothes amongst the festival finery, I am hard to miss. As I try to click and capture the joy and fun around me, people holler greetings and good wishes in my direction. The accompanying big smile, folded hands and the slight bow never fail to warm my heart. It feels so good to be at the receiving end of this effortless and sincere respect which people extend to each other. All that it requires is a large generous heart , a non-existent egoistic outlook, and gratitude for being alive and healthy to enjoy another festive season.
The colorful flowers and clothes and balloons, the shiny tiny displays and decorations, the snacks and the sweets, the clear air filled with laughter and mirth…all these things are just the icing on the cake of simple living and high thinking. This year, I am just glad to have eaten a large slice of that amazing cake!
Happy Diwali, my dear readers!