Diwali takes me into a flash back into my childhood every year. As I child how excited I used to be and most of the preparations would be begin almost a month ahead of Diwali. My mother had her own agenda for making all the home made delicacies and farsan. My father would start picking up things that would be made at home the Anar’s specially.
While in kitchen I would definitely help my mother making a few things that were very special to me the Karanjis, namak parey and shaker parey. Now my favourite was always the Karanjis which would be filled up with roasted suji, coconut and raisins along with sugar. The prep and making of this would take at least two days as the tradition those days was to share all home made farsans with every neighbor and what variety I would get. I always would remember that the Karanjis that she would make would be kept in a drum and under lock and key as I would keep picking up one everytime I visit the kitchen and slowly the drum would start getting empty.
My father would start accumulating all the ingredients required for making Anar, the earthenpot shells which would be soaked in water and then dried up in sunlight. The Gandak and all ingredients that would sparkle up the anar when lit. His recipe and formulation for making Anar and Matabi was perfect. He would blend and we would stuff the anars, then seal them from behind with clay mud. These would be dried up every day in sunlight and that was my duty. It was done for almost seven days. I wonder if ever I get back those days while I am now a Mega Metro Citizen where all these are just stories now. Further with all our mega metros almost under construction modernization pressure they are so populated that I would certainly not look at even lighting up a single cracker to damage the environment further.
The day of Diwali day had it’s unique beginning. We would actually wake up early and start the prep. I remember the front of the house we would use split bamboo trees and then tie them up on our fencing. I would wet some clay mud and put blobs and flatten them at intervals so that they would hold up the Diyas which would be lit up in the evening.
I also remember the most important thing which I would do up. It was a tradition in early days that we would make toy house which I was an expert in. We would do a complete décor with toys, sands, the toy house and this was done at the entrance of our house. My sisters, brother and myself we would go to all neighbors’ to check whose arrangement would be the best. I also remember that with my friends I would make the small Ravan which we would call Narkasur. There is history behind this which you could find across in various texts and digital mediums. However our excitement was to make an effigy and burn it in the evening of Diwali, like people do in Dusshera. I wish we had cameras those days to capture all this we had done as we capture memories now for every moment of our life.
Come evening we would go to the Gurudwara first to light up candles and then the candles or diyas would be lit at home. Post which I remember I would accompany my mother and sisters to various houses of people to distribute sweets. The best was the exchange of sweets as all my neighbours belonged to various communities and I would get South Indian Murukus from one of the neighbours and Kul kuls from my neighbour from Kerala, some Bengali sweets from my other neighbours and for me this was a treat. Go the kitchen each time and pick up something and quietly move out before anyone comes to know of it. I probably think sometimes that my exposure to all these various foods lead me to my profession of a Chef.
How I wish the tradition keeps up to lighting up homes and diyas only and sharing Mithas with people who need more than people who already have.
Let’s Celebrate Diwali Dil Se this time rather than bursting fire crackers, let the trigger of a cracker wake up the soul to serve mankind more and more.