Diwali is approaching and for some Hindu Indians, it is time to compare and show off on who is celebrating Diwali in the most grandiose manner.
When I was growing up in Teluk Intan, in an Indian ghetto known Kanpung Sungai Timah, I bore witness to the scenes where Indians try to out-celebrate Diwali from each other. For me, as a kid, it was a sight to behold!
A month before Diwali, a Tamil musical fest will be launched by my neighbours. I remember not being able to concentrate on homework and reading because of the defeaning noise blaring from their amplified speakers. When requested to lower the volume, they'd justify their action by saying, Ipdi paatu pota than Diwali mood varum." (It is only this way of hearing songs loudly would usher Diwali mood in.) and my Dad would get red in the face.
Concurrenty, fire crackers (haram ones of course) would be launched in unearthly hours, disturbing sound sleep. Our dog would bark loudly each time Cina pattasu (Chinese fire works) got going only to add vibes to the already unbearable cacophony. I don't blame our dog; I blame my neighbours for being so inconsiderate and apathetical about disrupting the peace of others.
In the morning, our lawn (it was a village and there were no divisive gates) would be covered with red papers from the fire crackers and my Mum would grudgingly sweep the vestiges out from our turf. My Dad would say a police report would put a stop to our neighbours literally illegal activities and my Mum would retort that we should not get into trouble with our neighbours.
2 weeks before Diwali, neighbourhood aunties would go on a visiting spree; they'd go to each other's house to check out Diwali embellishments and preparations. They'd ask how many varieties of cookies were made, how many new clothes purchased, check curtains, bed spreads and dining table cover and whatnot. Later, at their own homes, the aunties would either emulate decos or try to out-decorate other houses. Talk about dedication. I wonder whether they had the same zeal in their children's education.
On Diwali day, cookies and other Diwali delicacies will be exchanged. The thing that struck me was, the well off ones would only share the sweets and savouries amongst those who are also well off. They won't give a crumb to the poor Indians who also call the village home. For me, this is despicable and simply sordid. All they wanted to do was compare who made the best delicacies of all. The real meaning of Diwali is lost here, replaced by haughtiness of which became the recipe that decided the fate of Narakasura. What is the point of celebrating Diwali anyway when the lesson behind Diwali goes unrealized?
Later in life, I moved to Ipoh and was mindfucked when I paid witness to my neighbour's 'Diwali tradition'. They borrow money to celebrate Diwali grandly! How absurd and puerille! I was like WTF when they approached my Mum to lend some money so that they can get new curtains for their windows. The couple had 5 children and they were all scrawny, clearly malnourished and there was their mother, asking for some money so that she can purchase new curtains for their residence! My Mum said sternly that she won't give a cent to the lady simply because of her weenie, good for nothing purpose. She said she'll serve food for all 5 children daily but never give a cent for the couple to have a Diwali makeover of which is wholly unnecessary and trifle. The lady was like, "Oru varusuthukku oru vaati thane ka.. Naan thirippi kuduthureven.." (It is only once in a year sister.. I will return your money.) My Mum didn't budge from her stand and since then the lady stopped talking to us.
The lady went on, carrying tales about my family to our other Indian neighbours," Anthe Telugu aallungge thavicha vaayikku thanni kude kudukemaatangge. Sariyana kanje pisnari!" (Those Telugu people won't even give some water to one who is thirsty. Such tightwads!) Our other neighbours told us about it and not wanting to stoop to their filthy level, we just maintained reticence.
I am not saying we should celebrate Diwali or any other festival in an extremely austere and minimalist manner. What I'm pinpointing is, any festival should be celebrated within the household's financial status' means and not disrupting the equilibrium of others. Where is the logic of becoming a debtor just because one wants to celebrate Diwali lavishly so that people can oohh and aahh at them? Vetti bandha thane? (Pretentious isn't it?) Celebrating Diwali in a luxurious fashion is uncalled for, given the current state of economy. Diwali treats ain't healthy either, high in fat and sugar laden. See, all these must be taken into consideration and prudence as well as discretion and moderation should be applied when preparing for Diwali and when celebrating the festival of lights.
So, folks, make sure your Diwali celebration is a sensible one. Go easy on booze and mutton curry. Party all you want but don't do it at the cost of the peace of others and do exercise to get rid of Diwali weightgain!
HAPPY DIWALI PEEPS!!