A few days after resting and gathering the energy to post, I’m finally ready to talk about our Diwali! Last Diwali was a bit sad. We were not yet married, and DN went home to celebrate with his family while I stayed in our apartment and attempted to celebrate alone. This was our first married Diwali, and it was truly beautiful.
When we arrived at our family home, I waited outside while DN went in. My mother-in-law, whom I call “Mummy”, came outside, as she usually does, and welcomed me with a ritual to remove any bad energy. At least, that’s my understanding. Mummy, grasping a small pot full of water with her pallu, waves the water in circles around me, before tossing the water on the ground, away from the home.
Upon entering, I set my bag down in the main room, and was welcomed to sit down and have water by my didi (elder sister) – DN’s sister-in-law. Since we arrived in the late afternoon, it wasn’t long before we had dinner and rested for the remainder of the night.
The next day, after cleaning our room, taking a bath, and washing my clothes, I was called into the main room to help with rolling papadi – Indian chips. The following day, I helped Mummy roll out some gujia – a fried pastry stuffed with a sweet paste and dried fruits. Every day, until Diwali, was mostly built around making food – and we had bags and bags of fried snacks in storage to prove it!
That night, to my surprise, my snarky cousin-sister came for a visit, to do mehndi on me and my didi. Yes – the same cousin-sister who mistreated me the last visit home. Since, she has earned the title “snarky”.
Early Diwali morning, I crept out of my room to visit the restroom, when I heard movement outside. I peeked through the curtain and saw Didi and Mummy outside! Mummy was finishing up sweeping the pavement in the front, and Didi was preparing to smear cow dung all over the pavement. They quickly noticed me and invited me out with a giggle, but I declined, hurrying back to bed. My husband later explained that everything from the cow is considered holy, and cow dung is used in most major pujas.
Later that morning, after chai, my snarky cousin-sister and younger brother-in-law could be found making the rangoli in the front.
Diwali afternoon, after a nice lunch, we made garlands of marigolds for the upcoming puja and festival. I sat behind a partially closed curtain, much to my mother-in-law’s amusement, so I could focus on stringing the flowers together without covering my face. Father-in-law, whom I call “Babu”, made elegant garlands of marigolds and ashoka leaves.
After cooking dinner, everyone entered the home temple, where father-in-law was already waiting, to do the puja. The ceremony lasted over an hour, where there we prayed to Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, and Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of fortune and prosperity. During the ceremony, my mother-in-law performed a ritual on the Goddess pendant featured on my mangalsutra.
We had a huge dinner, and everyone crammed in the main room (also Mummy and Babu’s room). On top of eating dinner, which was puri, alu gobhi and matar paneer, we had to eat the prasad (a religious offering that is first offered to the gods, and then consumed by the worshippers). The prasad was a few puri, dried fruits and nuts, coconut pieces, halwa, small sweet pieces of candy, and more.
The night of Diwali, after puja and dinner, we made our way to the rooftop for fireworks. It was the first time I felt I could fully be myself! I didn’t have to worry about covering my face, because it would have been dangerous to do so. I simply kept my head covered as we played. I mostly played with sparklers with Manu (my niece) while watching the men light the bigger fireworks.
It all lasted about ten minutes, sadly, as my younger brother-in-law burned his hand on one of the fireworks by accident. After we realized he was badly burned, we took priority in treating him. When he went to bed, everyone went to bed. My husband and I decided to return to the roof top to clean up the mess from fireworks and put the unused fireworks away. We stayed for about an hour, watching the neighbor’s fireworks and talking about childhood memories, before turning in for the night.
In the days following Diwali, we had dinner with my adopted Indian family, I got sick from pollution, we celebrated Bhai Dooj, and the journey home was an adventure! Stay tuned for the next few posts!