Sunday, January 5, 2014

Let there be Light .

Only light. And no sound.

Every year around Deepavali I get panic /anxiety attacks.Depression, too. Not only at the Bay of Bengal but within my mind.

It is not an over-the -hill thing for sure. Since childhood, have always been terrified, depressed, melancholic, retrospective, irritable, moody, anxious, guilty, sad, hyper around Deepavali time. The Nagaswaram, which otherwise is so beautiful sounding,  adds to my predicaments at an unearthly hour.

To put it in other (s') word - I am Judgemental. So be it.

Have been bottling this up for too long. The emotions that surface on Deepavali eve that is none too good add to my woes making it a tad uncomfortable and challenging to express.

After all, no one likes to throw a wet blanket on celebrations and Crackers only to be looked upon as a killjoy.

So, I let go every year. Now Timed it between two Deepavali.

Terrified of the loud crackers. Why do we Indians like everything loud? As a child, I too have burst crackers, pretending to be brave and all.

Crackers to me meant cape, vengaya vedi, pattani -as it was known in Pondicherry in those days, a small pea sized cracker rolled in a colourful paper which goes "pop" when forcefully thrown on the ground. But these were enough to scare me.

But on one such beautiful D-day decided to bare all with a declaration to give up crackers. I must have spent more than half my ego that day while I hold on tightly to whatever is left.

Global warming phenomenon had not gathered much heat back then, and it was cool to burst crackers.So had no other excuse, but to confess my fear of crackers, particularly the alarming sound of bombs.My siblings were only too happy to divide my share of the crackers amongst them.

Depressed at the glaring differences that the festivities throw up between the haves and the have-nots. And the many unfair practices that one cannot help ignoring. Educational institutions remain closed. Offices and factories too. But domestic helpers were/are not given a day off. Though elders in my family always took care of the domestic help and their children during festivals by buying them new clothes and giving them a share of crackers and other goodies.

It was still unfair. Majority of labourers had a forlorn, longing, helpless and resigned-to-fate look.

The rag-pickers who were children my age or sometimes half my age worked through the Deepavali day to earn a few extra bucks scavenging through the debris of spent crackers, all the while looking for some un-used ones.

The EXCESS amount of sweets consumed during Deepavali only pushed up the label sizes from XS to something else, while leaving a bitter taste at the sight of these rag-pickers.

Irritable at the noise levels.The sudden loud noises push my heart up my throat. I Hated it then. I continue to hate it now. The street dogs, stray cows, birds - cannot even fathom their plight.

At least I had a few corners at home and large tables under which I could take shelter.

Newspaper headlines the next morning used to make us Sad with many reports about accidents due to crackers.

Retrospective - about the fact that my amma never got a chance to enjoy festivities, as she had to prepare a grand gala full course meal for a large joint family and ended up doing more work than regular days.

Over the years, the decibel level, the disparity between the wealthy and poor, the amount of wasteful expenditure have all gone up.

However, it is very heartening to note that awareness about the ill effects of crackers has increased and the employment rate of  Child Labour in Cracker factories too has drastically come down.

Not enough. The decibel levels and the pollution need to come down. The real meaning of  Deepavali has to be brought out.

I am still not sure about the reason for the festivities. .Many theories abound.

Is it Rama's homecoming after vanavasa? As believed in the North of India.
Krishna's Narakasura vadham? As considered in the south of  India.
Deepa + Avali meaning rows of light for keeping the insects and bugs away with the onset of the monsoon?

Puzzled that Deepavali is not celebrated in Kerala, where Krishna is celebrated? And what about Northeastern states of India? Why don't they celebrate Deepavali?

Questions and more questions pop out with every 'damaal dumeel.'

People, calling it  "Diwali" makes it worse. Another major irritant associated with Deepavali.

I take solace in doing up a colourful rangoli and lighting it up with oil lamps.

Happy Deepavali!

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