For those who do not speak my language, my title today may be difficult to understand so please bear with me as I explain.
When my neighbor asked me how I am going to celebrate Diwali or Deepavali, the Indian lights festival, I really did not have an answer. Nothing can duplicate the fun and the rituals we had in India growing up here in the US. It has been nearly 17 years since I celebrated the festival in India, and so many things have changed in India too.
Ganga or the River Ganges is considered one of the holy rivers of India and on the day of Diwali, it is said every household water before sunrise is said to have it’s potent. So taking an early morning bath in our houses itself is thought to be like taking a bath in that holy river which purifies our soul. So the exact meaning of my title is Ganga Snanam aacha is have you taken your bath in river Ganga.
So right from the point of waking up before sunrise, around 4.30 to 5.00 am to having an oil massaged hot water bath , wearing new clothes and rushing to the street to burst crackers and wishing our neighbors and asking them “GANGA SNAANAM AACHA” is tough to duplicate. We got new dresses only twice a year. We had uniforms for school, so Diwali was one occasion that we got something that was expensive and shopping for it was a big deal for me. Mom’s snacks were definitely the best since it was prepared for the festival not available all year round in fast food shops. We did not burst crackers to pollute the world but to have fun and in reality as my Grandmother used to say, to ward off the mosquito population at that particular point of time (right after the monsoon season).
Yes, I cannot duplicate what I had before but the festivities need to continue. I have had long conversations with my father in law as to how he used to celebrate the festival with food and I know I can make those simple snacks for my kids to follow up with the family tradition. My kids are not going to get up early morning for their oil bath, but at their own time would be having an oil massaged warm bath and will have a new set of clothes. Lighting lamps is not our tradition, but most of India do. Indian stores here sell lot of lamps and I have added that to my festive celebration. Hollywood actress Mindy Kaling threw a grand Diwali party, I may not throw up a party but may have a decent and yummy lunch for my family.
This year I ordered a special Diwali sweet and savory package from India and it consisted of something called Diwali leghiyam. So what is the stuff, it is an ayurvedic medicine that needs to be taken after we eat all these snacks. A precautionary health strategy created for our digestive health.
As years roll, rituals and traditions change but festivities continue. It is a happy time and time to teach our kids culture and tradition in a fun way. It is of course a time to make wonderful memories. After 2 year break, our local temple has Diwali dinner planned for the next weekend with sparklers. We have done it for many years, we maybe doing that too.
Diwali is Monday, October 24th and I writing this blog the 21st evening since I have a lot to do this weekend 😃. “Happy Diwali All”!