Feeling very self important a little girl walked hurriedly towards the kitchen. Bending under the shelf she spied the tell tale trail of mustard oil and followed it into the pantry. The bottle of mustard oil in hand, with a skip in her step she dragged out the bag of diyas from the store room. She knew the big roll of cotton was in the medicine cabinet. And finally what she needed was a pack of matches. Tearing a piece of cotton from the roll, she carefully and meticulously stretched it until it was long and thin. She chose a diya from the bag. Carefully she poured some mustard oil and dipped the cotton wick in it. Lips pursed and holding the match far away from her body she lit the diya. Slowly the flame came alive, flickered and then steadied. The glow from the flame of the first diya of the season warmed her heart. As she went about placing diyas all along the perimeter wall of her home, a sense of pride and satisfaction glowed in her eyes. If you looked carefully you could see the diya reflected in her eyes. If you looked harder you could see the same fire burning inside.
Today's fancy ready made diyas with candlewax don't appeal. Painted diyas don't appeal. Tea light candles seem too fancy for something so pure and simple. Fairy lights are a modern invention. It's the traditional mitti diyas that I miss. I miss the ritual of preparing the baatis (wicks), the satisfaction of pouring the oil into the diyas and the gentle sense of everything being right with the world when the diya comes to life.
For me it's Deepavali, not Diwali. It's the hand made diyas not the store bought ones. The excitement of sharing sweets with family, friends and neighbours. Dressing up, wearing pretty bangles and little jhumkas (earrings). As I sit far away, my Deepavali remains incomplete without my diyas. Tea light candles fill in.
Here is this year's diya.
And Squiggles in her Diwali outfit courtesy her Appammai.
Here's wishing all of you a wonderful and happy Deepavali!
P.S. Squiggles has misunderstood the importance of Deepavali. Instead of appreciating it as the Festival of Lights she thinks it's the Festival of 'Drink-as-much-milk-as-you-can'. So we have been spending some quality time together!!!