Friday, October 20, 2006

Diwali, the festival of Lights. We are celebrating in various ways. Cleaning and beautifying our spaces, decorating our homes, buying utensils and jewellery, lighting ‘diyas’ and candles, cooking and buying sweets and chocolates, making our selves beautiful and dressing up in new clothes. The buildings are a- twinkle with fairy lights and the sounds of firecrackers rent the air. The joyous screams of delight of the young ones as yet another ‘anar’ of light shoots up delights many an indulgent face. A slight nip is in the air and thoughts of snuggling in with loved ones in warm blankets holds its own romance.

We are welcoming Lakshmi into its homes with joyous smiles and eyes closed in prayer. This is the beautiful India, golden and bright.

The other side of the golden coin is dull and listless. Here the wind nips the air as young ones huddle together for warmth. The pavement is ill- lit and there is neither a sparkle in an eye nor a sparkler in any small hand. The feet are dirty, the hair mud-caked, the mouths hungry for a morsel of food. There is a wistfulness in the eyes that gaze with longing at the well-lit stores with their hordes of happy shoppers, wondering why they have been left out in the cold. Why Laxmi has failed to appear and bless them as well. After all, they are human too.

So the Festival of lights may just prompt us to not buy that too-expensive gift for a friend who will most probably dump it for recycling to someone else once Diwali comes around the next time. It may prompt us to gift that money away to a well-meaning NGO working towards bringing some cheer into the life of those for whom the lights do not shine. So that they may also have a full stomach ,warm blankets, and sparklers in their eyes like the rest of us on this Diwali day and in the days that follow.

“Shubh Deepavali!” May the lamp of joy, hope and love burn forever in all our hearts.


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