Nov 9, 2007

Evolution of Diwali celebrations

In the 20 odd years that I remember, Diwali is one exciting festival that I look forward to every year. I could think of so many memorable experiences that this day has offered me. The most distant memory I could recollect is waking up to the music of Nadaswaram at 3.30 AM on the morning of Diwali. The musicians used to visit every house, played Nadaswaram and Mirudangam for a few minutes and collected some money. The specific rituals would be in the order of taking oil bath before sunrise, wearing new sets of dresses, eating a delicious breakfast with a lot of sweets, firing crackers and visiting relatives' houses.

There used to be times when I was so scared of crackers that I would hide inside my house. When I had to go to my nearby grandpa's house, I would run fast with my ears tightly closed. My only interest was the harmless sparklers which my dad used to buy a bunch of boxes, especially for me. My little brother had all the crackers in his control with no competition from my end.

Then came the times when I started bursting roll and dot capes (remember the red dots and rolls!) and bijli crackers (tiny ones). My brother was happy to share them with me as he had already moved to the next level of lakshmi crackers and double sounds. Slowly I started moving to sparrow crackers and my fear started vanishing. My bro had to share the entire crackers box with me with a strict ratio of 50:50. He couldn't believe that he has to relinquish his monopoly one day.

With years passing by, the manner of bursting crackers has also changed. There used to be times when we used to untie the 28 wala or 58 wala (stringed crackers) and burst them one by one. But as we grew older, we started tying bijli crackers into a bunch and bursted them. How can we miss the heroics of lighting bijli crackers by holding them in our hands and throwing them to neighbours house?

Once I remember we had a very bad rainy season just before Diwali. Most of the crackers never bursted. A creative person, my brother is! He collected all the crackers that didn't burst and lighted the pile. Pishshhhhh! Black smoke all over his face! We had to rush to the hospital and give him an injection to avoid any infection.

In our apartment, we had a competition among the kids as to who bursts the crackers the first. My brother and I used to get up very early, burst a 100 wala outside and then come home with a big success smile. We also had competition among the apartments in our street. Which apartment has lots of bursted crackers and papers outside the gate? To win this competition, we used to burst a lot of lakshmi crackers. For people who are not aware of the properties of lakshmi crackers, they are the ones that spit out the most paper bits.

In the past few years, the passion with crackers has considerably gone down. We like to just laze around, watching TV and teasing cousins who fear to burst crackers. Whatever it is, Diwali is a special day to share joy and happiness!

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