Today, I found a poem I wrote years ago (almost 20 years now!). I think this was the year when I first moved out of home for just one year to stay at a hostel since the college I had enrolled in was away from my hometown at that time.
As I celebrated Diwali (the Festival of Lights) with friends today, I recalled the celebrations at home (as I have been doing for the past week!). Dad would wake us up for our Ganga-Snaanam at 4 am – he would achieve this by turning on all the lights in the house, by putting on the melodious sounds of Nadaswaram on the tape-recorder (though, as kids should, we fussed about the lights and noise in the middle of the night while secretly enjoying the tradition). There would be a friendly competition in our neighborhood about who would light the first crackers (actually burst would be the apt word here!). We would wake up sleepy-eyed for our traditional oil bath, given a spoon of Deepvali lehiyam (made up of mainly ginger, omam, jaggery) to ensure that all the goodies we would keep eating through the day does not mess up our digestive system (I am always amazed by how all this was so well planned by whoever did this first), one piece of sweet(yummy!) and new clothes for the festival. After getting ready in our brand new clothes, we would rush out to have our part in the grand scale of firework events.
Later, we would eat a heavy breakfast and head out with plates of sweets and bakshnams in the biggest steel thattu (plates) we had, all arranged artistically for our friends and neighbors. We would pop in and out of homes, hand in our homemade preparations, spend a few minutes there and as we ate a few Diwali goodies, the plate we gave would be emptied of our preparations and in would go our friend’s home made preparations! I would look forward to some homes where I knew that the aunty had prepared my favorite sweets!
These wonderful traditions have created beautiful memories in me and I hope to do the same with my kids now though they are growing up away from India – with the Ganga Snaanam (in America!!), new clothes, some sweets (not in the grand scale that my mom did and continues to do even now), and lamps as well as a few sparklers to light up the night. In addition to these, we also create new traditions – adopted ones – of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas..
My parents have created wonderful memories for us and continue to do it still even half-a-world away. Mom always makes at least half-a-dozen sweets (this year included badhushah, thirattpal,kaju katli among them) and a similar number of snacks(mixture and ribbon pakoda were part of this years menu for her). Dad continues to wake us up (now with a phone call!) and by pinging me on FB with constant updates and photos on Picasa.
The poem here is because of them, for them:
Parents are caring,
for the things they’ll say or do
will bring a smile or dry a tear
or make a dream come true.
Parents are sharing
with their kind and thoughtful ways.
Parents are generous
with encouragement and praise.
Parents are wisdom,
shared with laughter or a smile.
Parents are friendship
that makes life more worthwhile.
But most of all, with their warm hearts,
and thoughtful, caring deeds.
Parents are love, and that’s
what every family needs.