Don’t deprive yourself from the happiness it brings to be home during the festivals….
I have been living away from home for the last five years. Apart from many other things like my folks and home cooked food, there is one thing that I missed terribly – the spirit of festivity. There have been times when Holi, Dussehra and Diwali have slipped away like all the other days, and I couldn’t go home for reasons related to work. I kept myself longing for those times when I would stroll around the painstakingly lit-up streets with my friends, hop from one Diwali fete to the other and help my mother in setting up the house.
Yesterday, I visited two of my dearest friends – a happily married couple – in the city who have been like a family. It was Ashtami, the eighth day of the Hindu lunar calendar. I wouldn’t have known it was Ashtami yesterday – much like all the last five years – had I not gone to their home. I am not a religiously devout person who believes in following the rituals and practices without understanding and adhering to the logic behind them, but I felt a deep sense of happiness when I ate the traditional puja food the lady had made and sat in front of the idols of god, while both of them enchanted a few mantras. It was purely because I was taken back home to my family and the festive revelry.
Then they decided to visit a temple in their locality and I went along, hoping to soak in some more of the celebratory spirit that I had kept myself away from for so long. There was a whiff of happiness and carousing in the air. While I walked through those beautifully lit-up streets and a happy crowd, I was tantalised by the inviting aromas, rising from the food, which was all around me. Right next to the temple, we spotted a Durga Puja pandal and made our way into it. I had never seen so many happily smiling human faces around me. We went a little ahead towards the Goddess’ idol, where the arti was going on. A woman in her forties looked at us and invited to hold the arti thali with the diya which she was holding so that we could also feel like we did something. She was a complete stranger and I was humbled by her courtesy.
While we were coming back home my mind was filled with stills from the past: scouting the streets with my mother for diyas, puja thalis, decor items and other small things which gave a sense of festivity; the house cleaning drive before Diwali; dressing up for fetes; hopping from one Durga Puja pandal to the other to see which made the best idol and the food and watching Ramleela. I kept wondering why did I ever refrained myself from such simple pleasures of life just because I thought going to office was more important. It was more important to be home.