Diwali

Happy Diwali

4:39 PM




So we are now on November 9th, DH and I obviously overslept which in his family means that you slept later than 8am (in our case 9am). But we somehow found our way downstairs to the kitchen to discuss what should be bought (fireworks and sweets as well as some film rolls and other stuff). DH sensing that barely 24h in the family house already makes me go nut (things go at a slower pace here) volunteered for the job and dragged me along. But first we decided to stop to a friend’s house to catch up with them since we haven’t seen them since January and that they are like us home for the festival. They told us that they will have to do the same kind of random shopping we were doing adding that they were to buy flower petals to make a rangoli which is a kind of mandala, generally made of colored powder but can be made with flowers, glitter, paint or whatever.
I told DH that it would be nice to have one home too, the year before I did one out of powder on our roof top terrace, but it was messy. Flowers therefore sounded good, so we spent some extra time on the shopping job hunting for a florist and headed back home for a late lunch, and then a final “get ready” session before the sun did set announcing the beginning of the festivities.
While DH headed on yet another shopping trip hunting for some “designer diyas” (Diyas being the little clay oil lamps we lit around the house), I went right to work on my contribution to the Diwali party : The Rangoli while my SIL worked on some other decorations, we were instructed to be ready at 5.30 because the Diwali Puja (worship time) was to be held no later than 7pm. By 5.15 I headed back to the room, took a shower, and proceed to change in a nice silk Saree. DH showed up while I was getting dressed telling me it would take time for everybody to be ready (should have known…this is India after all). I asked him to have SIL come upstairs with some safety pins as my “kancheepuram” saree (south Indian silk saree with gold weaved borders) was rather stiff and I struggled to keep it in place on my left shoulder.
By 6pm I was all set and went back downstairs (without stepping on the hem of my saree) to start taking snaps of the rangoli with it’s fancy diya stand in the middle. The first puja was held in BIL’s office to bless his business for the year to come, it was a short one. Next we headed to the kitchen where the prayer room is located and all gathered around the shrine, and since it was my first official Diwali worship with the family, FIL was as always very happy to share the info about the traditions. I now know that DH’s family belong to a Caste of scholar and that their family worship pens on Diwali, as the pen is a scholar’s weapon (and if you ask me one of the finest weapon ever created).
We each took turn worshiping Ganesh, Lakshmi and the pen, then we all were to write a short prayer of our choice on a piece of paper which would be then placed on the altar along with a couple of pens. I must admit I felt a bit pink at the time, I can’t write well in Hindi, and then I don’t know a single Hindu prayer or chant. But as always my very sweet father in law was quick on telling me that it didn’t matter, as long as it was a prayer it could be anything, and in any languages I wanted, he even added he would actually be very honored and flattered to have my personal prayer be a French one since it’s my native tongue, and of course a Christian one wasn’t an issue either. So, this is what I did jotting down a few verses of “Our father” (Notre pere in French).

The puja over, we headed to some relative’s house in the neighbourhood (ok the street on which we live) to wish them a happy Diwali and have a few sweets and snacks before heading to the next house, and end up topping it up with the umpteenth cup of Chai of the evening. Before deciding to do a few fireworks ourselves and going back inside to see the same relative in our house doing their round of wishes while munching on sweets, namkeens (salty thingies) and gulping their umpteenth cup of chai themselves, making sure to compliment my Rangoli a lot.

I’m not sure I really remember at what time we went to bed, but it was sure past midnight that day. And was probably one of my best Diwali ever, DH wasn’t lying when he said that North India celebrate it more lavishly than they do down South where we live.

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