Growing up in a Hindu family in Guwahati and Shillong; Diwali or Dwipanwita was a unique festival, as it would mean an end to our Puja Holidays! Future for students like us then meant the reality of the fearsome annual examinations that loomed ahead! So we were determined to enjoy the last days of our holidays and make the most of it.
Preparations for Diwali began right after Kati Bihu when crackers would be purchased from the market along with earthen lamps. These lamps were filled with mustard oil and lit on cotton wicks. The crackers needed to be sunned and we would have fun exchanging notes about the purchases and deciding the allotted moments to light each of them! Buying toy pistols, firing shots at one another while playing chor police encounters was a ritual and a must.
The houses would be cleaned and entrances decorated with banana trees on both sides, with protruding holders feet long prepared by slitting bamboos into halves and resting the lit earth lamps on them. For some strange reason, a peculiar insect with wings would love to hover near the lights and ultimately die on them! Other insects would also come out, attracted by these lights.
Kali Puja would be held in neighbourhoods late into the night and we were never too tired to listen to the story of the battle Godess Kali fought with the fearsome demons from our elders one more time. I loved watching bhaona, a folk theatre of Assam depicting these stories of the goddess.
Diwali was not a major festival those days, and so it never meant new clothes or exchanging sweets as it is now. But it was one of the most beautiful festivals, where all homes would be lit during twilight with twinkling earthen lamps against a dark moonless night! And it also meant the pure enjoyment of bursting crackers with one’s family, neighbours and friends!
(Photo collected from Google)
(The article is solely the opinion of the author. The views expressed here are solely personal and not in any way connected to any organisation or any political party ).