Holiday season is upon us. This past Sunday I rushed through the aisles of the local clothing store picking up a piece here and a piece there. I piled on my purchases and dove into the first available dressing room making sure I had at least one pair that fit. Walking out the store with a huge grey bag I felt relief.
Deepavali does that to me. I feel the urge to clean, to buy new clothes and indulge in sweets and fried food. As an afterthought I sometimes reflect on what it is that we are celebrating.
Growing up Deepavali was associated with the smell of thick, warm sesame oil with whole black peppers wafting through the house. The feel of the warm gooeyness sliding on the top of my scalp. The feel of the firm fingers that massaged and oiled my hair. The hot water sliding down my throat. The squeaky clean feeling after a round of shikakai. The sambrani smells lingering in those long tresses. The palagai with the kolams. The new silks that slip and slide as they are stacked on top of the said palagai. The rush to dust off the kumkumam from the said new clothes before wearing them. The hurried dash to the front gate to set off the fireworks. The taste of über sweet laddus and crispy mixture right after the morning coffee followed by the bittersweet deepavali marundhu that glides through the throat dripping with fragrant ghee. The quick visit to the neighborhood temple to ogle at the fancier clothes and jewelry that neighbors are wearing. The sleepiness that descends on the family when the rest of the world wakes up. The morning snooze followed by a fitting feast. The afternoon siesta and another round of bakshanam and coffee. The leftover fireworks and an end to a day that was waited for with bated breath all year-long.
If ever there was a festival that celebrated the transient and material nature of life this was it. A day to show off and live it up. A day to unapologetically one up the neighbor. For a festival that begins and ends in darkness, Deepavali sure lets us be for a day. Unvarnished. Exuberant. Childish.
So, as I strive to recreate the memories from my childhood tomorrow. I wish for you: Plenty and Prosperity. Childish joy and Happiness. Sweets Galore. A healthy life.