“I love Diwali, because during Diwali my mother makes karanji and ladoo and sells it in packets. With that money, we get new clothes and good food. That is why I love Diwail.” The ten year old girl’s eyes were gleaming as she spoke about her favourite festival. She had two neat plaits hanging down her back. Her clothes were spotlessly clean. Only the battered slippers gave her away as coming from a family that was surviving somewhere just above the poverty line.
Diwali means many things to many people. Firecrackers, new clothes, sweets, lights, holidays, sales, family, fun. I know most people in India, regardless of their religion, look forward to the festival. But never before did I realize that many people look forward to the festival, because it gives them a chance to augment their family income.
Though neither a good cook, nor a cheerful one, I always try to make at least one sweet at home during Diwali. Coming from a family of good cooks, I lived under delusion that slaving over a hot fire was one way of demonstrating affection. On the few years when I was forced to get shop bought sweets, they never seemed to mean as good as the home made ones, even if they tasted much better.
This year on, I am not going to attempt making any sweets at home. Enabling a family to celebrate a festival with greater gusto carries more significance than any self congratulatory things I may attempt.