Diwali – from the Hindu word for earthen lamps called diyas – is the festival of illumination in India. A five day fanfare entering the month of Kartik, this celebration is all about a new start, a refresh.
There’s the buying of gold and silver, new clothes, and fireworks. The atmosphere is a frenzy of firecrackers sounds and the squealing of kids and the giggle filled gossip of women in extravagant clothing. Gluttony is forgiven, as the calorie conscious gulp down kaju-katris and pakodas whilst making a note to extend the gym subscription.
We have all done our good quota of exercises at home itself, though. Cleaning every single square inch of our house, with our moms oscillating between frustration and the joy of cooking some great food and – even feeding all of us.
The second watch word of this festival is cleansing. White clothing, dust-free (within reasonable limit of cleanliness) homes, appliances, rangolis and no darkness where vision falls, is the how-it-should-be on the eve of Diwali (the third day of the festival).
This is to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, bringer of prosperity; And since the Gujrati communities were traditionally (and still are) businessmen, they found it fitting to mark this as the beginning of the cycle of time – the lunar calendar of Samvat Vikram.
Thus, the notion of cleansing takes a new roll for everyone, as old ledgers are ruled out, and fresh ledgers (a book to record business transactions) are brought in while business is generally taken a Sabbath from, for the days of the festival.