As the day drew closer, diwali melas sprung up everywhere. Familiar landmarks disappeared and the ordinary skyscape was transformed into a twinkling fairy land by night.
I picked up 50 earthen diyas for a steal - 20 Rupees only. I also got the cotton wicks (12 to a pack for 5/-). And the all important mustard oil. (I could have opted for the easier electric lights...but somehow, I wanted this diwali, my first one here, to be traditional).
A got a tad carried away and bought a large amount of crackers: no bombs; Charkis, anars (flower pots) and 20 boxes of phuljharis (sparklers). This last one was for me since I am petrified of crackers despite my enthusiasm for diwali fireworks. We invited S & his wife D and their 3 year old to help me finish off the phuljaris.
We sat and reminisced about past diwalis. How one year the 8 year old A with his uncle's help decorated the entire home with homemade lanterns made of coloured papers and diyas and had the whole neighbourhood agog and his photo in the paper! And how I after shifting into a new appartment in Kolkata, bullied the residents for the diwali fund and had our first diwali dhamaka...where everyone burst the never ending supply of crackers that I had organised while I and quaked under the water tank.
On diwali eve, we put the crackers in the sun .... to make them crackling shape (for diwali night)!!On diwali, I timidly (I am timid in all things domestic...well actually in most things), filled up the diyas with mustard oil (realising that slipping a piece of newspaper under the diya should be the first step, rather than the last), put in the wicks...arranged the diyas on the broad parapet on each verandah and lit them.
We went downstairs and were told that we could burst our cracker outside the entrance. A and our friends promptly started off while I quivered with a sparkler in my shaking hand. Soon, the other residents descended with huge bags holding their enormous stock of crackers. Our flower pots, sparklers and charkis got lost amid expensive rockets zooming and bursting into golden showers, silver sparkles, dropping parachutes and what not.
We returned upstairs...and ate pizzas and then bid our friends adieu. I realised that I had been so busy running around trying to hide, fingers in my ears from the various bombs...that all evening I managed to light only three phuljharis (A had got 20 boxes for me remember?).
Before retiring for the night, I went from room to room switching off the lights...and there they were...my cheap little diyas holding their own...casting a small but tenacious golden light...to me more beautiful than any of the fancy twinkling electric lights.
Happy Diwali everyone!