As far back as I can remember, Diwali has always been my favorite festival. Diwali- festival of lights is one of the major festivals for Hindus, of course all the festivals are major ones for Indians! Diwali traditionally celebrates victory of light over darkness signifying victory of good over evil. In India it is also one of most commercially profitable festival, with everyone splurging over sweets (desserts), clothes and gold.
As a kid I remember waiting for Diwali throughout the year. Diwali meant 3 weeks of vacation from school, new clothes, lots of farsan (delicacies) and sweets and of course lots of lights and crackers. I remember that anytime I pressed my mom for new clothes her common refrain was, “we will buy this during Diwali!” It was a magical time for the youngest kid living in a joint family with a gaggle of older sisters. The main Diwali day means laxmi puja- praying and sending appreciation to Goddess Laxmi for the wealth that she bestows upon us and the other main day for gujaratis is the start of new year as per the Hindu calendar which is celebrated by wishing everyone Saal (year) Mubarak (happy). All throughout my childhood I remember my parents waking up early so that they could start the new year by visiting the temples early in the morning. New year celebration for me meant waking up at 4am to burst crackers and then visiting all the relatives so that I could ask them for blessings, gorge on good food and collect monetary gifts (in form of blessings) from all the elders of the house!
Even though there is Diwali celebration in US it does not hold candle to the extravaganza and festivities which happen in India during that time. This year I am home for Diwali after being away for 8 years and I had almost forgotten the fun, magic and good food available at home during Diwali. The sheer noise, energy, festiveness and good will is amazing and exhausting. I had forgotten the enjoyment and satisfaction of spending time with family, wearing beautiful Indian sarees and jewels! Needless to say, it makes me feel that moving back home might be a good idea and that all the thrills of the world cannot compare to living close to those whom you love the most!