To many Deepawali aficionados, it’s a couple of months programme to get the fire crackers perfect. For me, getting trained under my grandfather, it took just a couple of days as all we (me, my sister and cousins) did was to fill the flower pots with phosphorus, aluminium foil, and sulphur. But the white flower pots require an empty bottom that needs clay-sealing that ought to be dried for 5-7 days. Grandfather did all the great and tedious jobs. All we did was just the filling. Then comes the fire lanterns that lit in a style if we used the glazed, thick paper that came in Soviet Union and SPAN magazines. Our neighbours who were professional at making rockets, variety of other crackers and flower pots collected these papers from us at least 3-4 months prior to the event. Rest of the crackers that included bombs were all store bought- but locally made.
These specialised neighbours used to make multi coloured fireworks which were named aubergines, rockets, onions, sparrows based on how they flew, and how they slithered or moved around!
At least in our area we celebrated this festival beyond religion and creed. People lived in thatched houses, used to water them well, so they remain safe in this process.
Gone are those days. On the name of pollution and the flummoxed political gains, and with the imports from China nothing is the same.
How long one lit the crackers depends on how well-off and lavish one is! Of course, with little socialism spread well across, almost everyone enjoys this festival irrespective of their origin or religion.
What remains the same for me is the memories. With UK law letting us celebrate this festival, we have had lovely celebrations with friends in UK, and the same in US but with some restrictions on the crackers, this has been truly festival of lights. These two countries, where ever we lived, also have given us opportunities to come together as a group to be able to extend these celebrations to our children’s schools too.
Deepawali marks the killing of Narakasura by Satyabhama, and also Ram returning to Ayodhya after killing Ravana signifying victory of good over the evil. Wishing everyone a safe, happy Deepawali/Diwali- row of lamps/lights.