It’s Diwali and the best way I can explain this Hindu/Jain/Sikh festival is by combining the fireworks of Fourth of July, the food of Thanksgiving, the presents of Christmas, and the festivities of New Year’s Eve, into one multi-day-mega party.
Growing up, Diwali meant:
- School was out for about 10-15 days if I remember correctly.
- The neighborhood was packed with kids because many families visited each other during this time.
- Moms, grandmas, aunts kept forcing you to eat the equivalent of cakes and pastries all day long. The sugar-high lasted for days after.
- Annoying and crazy relatives all of a sudden became loving creatures who gave out presents and money; lots of money.
- Every night from sunset to about 10:00pm, there wasn’t a moment of quiet because every kid, unsupervised and sugar-high-ed, on every street was setting off fireworks. Parents would simply pull out chairs and look up at the sky being lit up with a million different colors. The faint sounds of a distant firetruck or an ambulance would remind them to check on their own kids’ safety. But soon, they were back on their chairs, with their chais, cakes, and friends.
- Every house, office building, and store was lit up with “Christmas” lights.
In a nutshell, the world transformed into a storybook illustration of perfect people, perfect houses, perfect lives.
Things are a little less magical these days. Perhaps it’s just a part of growing up. But the memories flood right back when mom brings out the sugar treats, or when my nephews get excited over the same things as I did when their age. I am headed home to relive a little bit of the magic this weekend. I wish you all a Happy Diwali and Saal Mubaarak.