A Festival At Home

“Please get her a nice, trustworthy guy to marry soon,” was the prayer my uncle said just before the celebrations ended. My mom and aunt bit back laughter while I tried not to roll my eyes. It seemed rude somehow and I told Ganesha in my mind that I would really like it if he could do something regarding the other things I asked him about first and then bring that tall, dark, handsome prince charming into my life.

That was the odd note of a festival where I felt extremely Indian and very spiritual for a change.

Festivals in India are considered to be harbingers of change. It could be merely psychological but every festival is an opportunity for a new start. Diwali is when the financial year ends or Lakshmi comes home, so there is the whole bit about how it is good for business and work. Ugadi is the south Indian new year, so you have yet another chance to make a fresh start 3 months after the general calender celebrates the new year.

And Ganesha – the god of all beginnings, the god you pray to before starting out on anything. Why? I am not too sure… There should be a story behind it. Everything in the Indian culture has a story behind it, some of the stories mask the scientific reasons, if any. Like why Ganesha is always placed facing East also has a story. One that I had heard but I did not realise that Ganesha had to be facing east and this was the reason.

I love it when these beautiful stories are told… when I do not think of the fanaticism some of them talk with, it is beautiful and makes me proud of being an Indian. This particular story was repeated by my uncle when we were in the backyard, waiting for the immersion ceremony.

The celebrations have toned down in my house slowly. We no longer have the elaborate, painted idol decorated with tons of flowers, jewelry, pots, lights and whatever else. Truth be told, I do miss that elegance. But now, we are more ecofriendly. Brown idols without the paint… and my uncle ensures that there is minimal ecological imbalance from our idol. The belief about each part of the ceremony is too deeply ingrained to buy a stone idol as some propose… but I guess you win some, you lose some.

Do you also feel that energy in the air when there is a festival? Perhaps because it is a weekend or maybe it is because I actually have time off this time… or it could just be that people don’t feel as poor as they did last year… but celebrations seem a little better comparatively. I saw a couple of processions, idols on tiny streets and lights.

Thanks to the fact that it is also Eid today… every street is decorated in one form or the other. Men in crisp white kurtas lounge around one street while glittering red tents house Ganesha idols in the next. It is moments like this when I absolutely love being an Indian.

There was barely any traffic today… and the weather beautifully pleasant and cool. The rains held off till evening and there weren’t as many cars on the road. I did something I haven’t done since I was a kid – I went to different houses to wish them. Only a few… but it was still a few more than what I did for years. The fact that they were my friends perhaps made the difference. There isn’t that awkward silence, the attempts at conversation and lately attempts to answer why you aren’t married that occurs when you visit your parents’ friends. And the attempt at looking pious while bowing in front of the idol. I like rituals… but when around people, it just makes me feel weird. So I visited friends, gorged on sweets, played with kids, took a nap and just soaked in the festivities.

I cannot wait for Diwali now. Perhaps it’ll be drab… but that is the only festival where I feel that energy and cleansing feeling. The sharing, the fun, the crackers and the kids.

It is the season of festivals… Dussera is on its way… and then there is Diwali. You blink and Bakrid happens. And then Christmas. The lights on Brigade Road are lit from Diwali till beyond New Years, making it look so beautiful and Christmassy. There are gifts to be bought, clothes to be shopped for. And just when you think it is over, there is Sankranthi, which is  mostly for food these days… and the Hindu new year of Ugadi. Not to mention all the birthday celebrations in between.

Oh the joy. Oh the celebrations.

Here’s to good times.

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