Usually my husband and I are not very “religious” and do not follow too many rituals and hate to admit try and shirk doing stuff (other than patakas) for Diwali. We usually just look for excuses and go and travel.
But this Diwali, I was very keen that we do something together and follow some traditions for the sake of our children. I remember going pataka shopping with my father and he going crazy and going to the market with my mother and buying clay figures of gods and toys, mithai, decorations...decorating our home with diyas...Doing the puja with my grandparents. So many lovely memories. My kids would have no such fond memories and understanding of traditions and all that they would remember is that their parents took them to some resorts on Diwali. So I was determined...
We were going to do a small flower rangoli together, decorate the house with lots of candles in side and outside, have good khana, set up a small puja ghar and do a little puja improvised with us. I did not remember the words of “Om Jai Jagadi...” so even printed the words. I tell ya—the stuff our kids make us do. Seeing their interest in doing all these little little things, was just so satisfying. And yes, it made me feel good as well.
I got busy with my to-do list and shopping. Come Diwali we woke up bright eyed and wished each other. My husband, the ever analytical one, asked so what is the significance of Diwali. Even before I (the miss know-all) could rattle off all my theories, he was reading aloud what wikipedia had to say. It said something beautiful about the essence of Diwali being about kindling inner light and outer light—festival of light. That got me!!
I had been so busy with all the stories and my to-do-list that had somehow forgotten this. It made me think how empty rituals and traditions are without remembering the essence—light, peace, joy, sharing, beauty... and that remembering the meaning behind them would be so much more satisfying and meaningful.
After all the wonderful stories, legends, rituals, puja and traditions are means to an end. Fun and important but still means to an end and made me realize that it would be some much more soulful and fun to not just light our diyas mechanically but light them with feeling and thoughts.
Not just get the rangoli done fast but focus on the process of doing the flower rangoli as well-- Going to the flower market early morning and smelling the wonderful flowers...Sitting together separating the petals and chatting, Then doing it together with the kids. The fragrance...and the kids so excited...being creative...being together...zen...aesthetics....focusing...worship...lighting the lamps...Not just the end rangoli but the experience!
I look forward to celebrating next festival—Christmas? Hoping I still retain this enthu...;-)