This Diwali, eat your fill, sing and dance with friends, family
Open up your hearts to regional cuisine, use Diwali as an occasion to learn more about traditional recipes and try making few in your kitchens
Seema Kaintura 24 Oct 2019 10:54 AM GMT
Beginning Navratras, the festive season is upon us — Dussera, Karva Chauth, Ahoi, Dhanteras, Diwali, Bhaidooj … buying and preparing, fasting and feasting and yet again fasting, it is like a great book of festivals, one festival ongoing and the other in waiting.
And then there is Diwali, the major Indian festival, which the entire nation and its economy looks up to with great hope. While some households are already making place for the religious offerings of puffed rice and sugar toys in the gleamingly cleaned up homes, most of us are caught up in ticking up to-do lists and thronging market to buy supplies, gifts, decorations and provisions.
Suddenly there is a nip in the weather and some smog in the air and traffic in the city. "Where do all these cars and people come from!" we think to ourselves while stuck up in the traffic or jostling in the overcrowded market trying to paw upon things.
Diwali means cleaning up of the entire house for most of us, a tradition that requires arduous hours of washing and cleaning and stashing and folding and scrubbing and thinking 'who knew we had so much!' While we are caught up in the roll of things to be achieved, it is natural to feel not quite festive at times. But one can still snatch small moments of happiness amid preparation for this Diwali.
First of all, do not hesitate to seek help, superhumans are stuff of comic books. By all means, do outsource the super cleaning to the experts if you are pressed for time. Send out the carpets, curtains, bedspreads, cushion covers for washing or dry cleaning.
Children can easily organize their toys, books and play areas. Save the delivery cartons, cover them in pretty cloth covers and hand them over to the children to keep their stuff.
Rather than keeping aside a day or two for the cleanup, undertake the activity in smaller steps staggered across days wherein every person does a small cleaning chore as per one's ability each day. This way you'd be able to enlist the effort of family as well as domestic help. Also, keeping an area clean is always easier than deep cleaning it occasionally.
While cleaning up one comes across many things that are kept in hope of their probable use. Please pass on the thing you love but do not need to those who can make better use of them. Any electrical equipment that is lying broken should be mended and used. Food articles that are unopened and unconsumed for long must similarly be passed on as your family is unlikely to develop a taste for those during or after Diwali.
Wash and pack the clothes that you and your kids don't fit it anymore while they are good and drop them at Daan Utsavs or NGOs that take used clothes and other household items.
Most of working parents already know that advance planning is the only way to meet the paucity of time. While planning or prepping up for Diwali one should actually think of weekends or Sundays as the only days available for festival shopping. App-based shopping is also a good option if you know what you'd be getting and keep adequate margin for the delivery. Always give away one when you buy its new replacement. Generally, try to reuse, recycle or upcycle as much as you can. So, an old ceramic teapot can make a good conversation-starter or your worn-out brocade can be refashioned into posh table runners and cushion covers or throws. Empty glass jars, similarly, can be used for festive decoration and as drinkware.
For all purposes, avoid shopping in bustling markets during rush hours. It takes far too long and drains out the shopper. Before hitting the markets make a note of things to shop and stick to it. Though buy-one-get-one scheme may seem lucrative unless you really have a serious need for the product or want to gift it to someone, resist all impulsive purchases. If possible, shop for clothes and gifts in advance so that adequate thought can be given to these while freeing up the much-needed time period nearing the festivals.
While shopping for clothes, go for natural, ethically sourced fibres. They may be more expensive, but you'd end up buying less and also reduce your carbon footprint. Buy what you'd wear and not because everyone's wearing it. Vibrant colours in traditional weaves look appealing and make a statement. Similarly, for gifting, opt for thoughtful sustainable options -- there are many available in the market. Gifting, after all, is a personal expression, it can be as unique as the person behind it and the person receiving it. The person receiving gift should experience the same joy you had in selecting and making a present. Unless the receiver is very religious, do steer away from gifting idols or pictures of a deity. Similarly, homemade cookies or cakes, preserves, snacks or traditional sweet when gifted-packed aesthetically make far more appealing a gift than the ubiquitous soan papdi.
Or you can scrape off the tradition of gifting altogether and begin a new tradition in its place. What we do to have fun and enjoyment is up to us and endless are the possibilities. Gift your neighbours a cleaner locality by helping clean it like you do your homes. Get together, hold that broom and pick up a bag and just have the area clean by initiating a contribution towards the same. Gather the kids and encourage them to make traditional leaves torans to be put upon entrances and paper banners for decorations. Similarly, they can be involved with rangoli art and the elderlies can be roped in to narrate the folklore surrounding the festival.
Illuminate your house beautifully with string lights, one is spoilt for choices in the matter of lighting. They are available in endless varieties, are longer-lasting, safer, hassle-free and take time only while installing. Earthen lamps can then be used only for symbolic purposes and candles should be used sparingly.
Initiate potluck parties where each family brings a dish, plan fun-filled parlour games and celebrate Diwali in community. Reach out to the people who live alone, assisted or are elderly. Home-cooked food adds variety, is more flavourful and easy on festival bellies. Open up your hearts to regional cuisine, use Diwali as an occasion to learn more about traditional recipes and try making few in your kitchens. Eat your fill, sing and dance unrehearsed, uninhibitedly with friends and family and laugh out loud. Illuminated faces and souls would make for a brighter Diwali.