Diwali brings back myriad memories from my childhood. Of school holidays, trips to our ancestral home, meeting my kakas (Uncles), kakus (Aunties) and the 11 cousins. Now my dad has 3 younger brothers and 2 sisters and every year we would make it a point to meet up at my grandfather’s house.
Diwali meant aarti (a ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee or camphor is offered to one or more deities) at the crack of dawn, of oil massages, of having a bath with uthna ( powdered mixture of sandalwood and some other perfumed salts) and shikakai ( soap nut)… wearing new clothes..
Diwali meant eating breakfast at one kaka’s house, lunch at another and dinner at yet another. Everyone would cook together, eat together on banana leaves.. innumerable chai sessions with public demands for chivda, Bhajji, vade, thalipeeth, holige, kattin saaru, soppu saaru, Bhakri & badnekai Palya (Diwali Sweets & savories) . The amazing faral – chakli, kodbole, shankarpalis. Of kaituttu and baituttu under the moon light..
Laughter that could be heard two streets down..
Diwali meant making Diwali cards, and sending and receiving postcards from our family overseas..
Diwali meant making jhendu (marigold) and shevanti garlands adorning the courtyards.. each cousin then trying to outdo the other finally leaving the courtyard covered with colorful rangolis and other artistic designs..
Diwali meant, spending the evening curled up around my grandmother, listening to the stories from the Ramayana.
Diwali meant bursting crackers with the whole community.. The elder ones hand holding the younger ones and sometimes the reverse..
Diwali meant a grand laxmi pooja at my uncle’s foundry.. and dad’s factory too.. It was a time to meet the workers, give them sweets, gifts, This used to mean a big deal to us kids.. Cos a factory visit during Diwali guaranteed cult status.. we felt important and humbled at the same time..
Diwali meant building Shivaji Killas [ Fort] with Shivaji sitting on top of a huge mud hill.. cardboard forts were built.. cars, carriages, soldiers with ammunition guarded the fortress, The miniature city would be abuzz with cattle tilling the [mustard seed] fields..horses running wild.. tigers and bears. Followed by visits to every street corner to find the best one.
Image from one of my fav blog friends Neelum via
and how can we forget the – The lamps.. innumerable clay diyas that were painstakingly painted, Akash kandils ( lanterns)
We also had a very special tradition of making a huge paper lantern. Each member would be involved in cutting, patching and sticking.. Finally after all dinner was had .. 4 of us would stand on top of a chair holding a corner while my uncle would slowly hold a mashaal (flambeau) under it till the lantern was filled with smoke that would make it lighter.. and then magic would happen .. slowly but steadily the lantern would rise higher and higher till it would become a tiny speck in the night sky..
As each one of us watched in wonder, Diwali gave us the gift of togetherness, happiness, teamwork, connecting to our roots and most importantly of memories that would last us a lifetime
*I’m from Belgaum. So we have mixed celebrations karnataka style & maharashtra style.
Edited to add – we won the contest at blogadda. Here’s what the judge – Bhavna had to say
As I read through your post and saw the beautiful pictures, I felt as if I have been invited to your ancestral home to celebrate Diwali with your family! I enjoyed the very well structured, visual journey through the entire day, starting with oil massages to family lunch to rangoli making and finally the lighting of diyas. I loved the part about Shivaji Killas and the huge paper lantern – traditions not known in the northern part of the country. Thanks for sharing your family celebrations with us.
Thank you Blogadda, Myntra & Bhavna.