Ghar waali Diwali – Episode 1

Posted: March 24, 2020 in Diwali, Family, Festival, Holidays, India

Overview and Diwali preparations

I’ve heard people often say, “Every day is a festival, every day is a celebration”. While there’s a ring of truth to it and it goes without saying that we must all be happy and thankful for every day of our lives, the reality is a teeny bit different.  Most of us have a routine that we more or less adhere to and commitments in schools and colleges, at home and at workplaces mean that every once in a while we end up disliking the monotony in our lives; and we also don’t get to spend time with our family and friends as much as we might like to. And thus, festivals are those special days every year when there’s an opportunity to cook, eat, play, sleep and pray together with our family.

As a kid, I grew up for the most part in Chennai and Vadodara and lived with my mother (henceforth referred to as amma) and my paternal grandmother (paati) whereas my dad (appa) worked in power projects and construction projects across India and was constantly shifting base. Come what may, appa always made it a point to be home with us for Diwali. And therefore, in my mind and perhaps many other Indians, Diwali has been the “biggest” festival in a calendar year.

When I moved out of Chennai for undergraduate studies, I made it a point in my first 3 years to come home for a few days even while being in the midst of the semester so that I could spend Diwali with my family. But in the next two years of undergrad and since moving to Chicago in 2017, I had not been with my parents for Diwali. 2019 would have been the 5th Diwali away from home and as soon as that thought struck me, I decided to fly home from the States to Chennai in the middle of the term, albeit just for 1 week so I could be at home. All I intend for this blog post to be is to summarize those 2 days of Diwali at home and how it was the perfect Diwali I could have asked for! So much for the introduction!

The feeling of “ghar-waali Diwali” (roughly translated as a homely Diwali) has resonated with so many Indians. This small segment of an ad by Maruti Suzuki that came out a few years ago remains one of my favorite Diwali ads.

The week preceding Diwali

It was not just exciting for me but also for my parents, grandmother, and uncles and aunts too, that I was coming home for Diwali. My parents were prompt to invite a whole bunch of people including uncles, aunts, and cousins to our home to spend the Diwali together and being the amazing hosts that they always are, made elaborate plans for sweets, snacks, and meals, all prepared at home, for the 2 days. All other family members were also going to bring in sweets and snacks to share with everyone. Bakshanams (traditional south Indian snacks) like kai murukku, thenkuzhal, mixture, sweets like ukkarai (a sweet made only once a year during Diwali) and godumai halwa (wheat halwa) were made in huge quantities.

The other most exciting aspect of the preceding week is shopping for new clothes! All this while, my parents have bought me new clothes on several occasions but shopping for Diwali is the most fun among them all! And this time around too, we went shopping the day I landed in Chennai, haha! But more importantly and with a hint of bragging here, since I am now earning a salary as a PhD student, I wanted to get amma and appa new clothes for this year’s festival and so, a new saree for amma and a new kurta set for appa was also added to the shopping list!

To be continued…..

  1. Sushil Rudra says:

    Thank you Ghar waali Diwali. Love you too


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