For most people Deepavali, the festival of lights, is the time for fireworks, sweets, gifts and traditions, writes SARASWATHY NAGARAJAN
For most youngsters, Deepavali spells fireworks. For them the festival would be incomplete without the sound and light of colourful sparklers, rockets and flower pots. "But there is more to Deepavali than bursting crackers," says singer Chitra Iyer. "For me, it is cleaning the house and decorating each room with flowers and lamps that is important. I also donate an amount to charity. Although I am against crackers as many children are employed in making them, I buy them for my two daughters, Aditi and Anjali."
Singer Kavalam Srikumar also says that he buys fireworks for his children, Krishnan and Gouri. "I maintain a safe distance as the kids burst the crackers. In fact, for them, Deepavali means bursting crackers. The smoke affects my throat, and so I can enjoy crackers only from a distance." Another person who stays away from fireworks is singer Vineeth Sreenivasan. "It leads to pollution and so I have never been very fond of crackers. I celebrate Deepavali with my friends. We go out, have fun, eat a lot of sweets... But my brother, Dhyan, enjoys fireworks. He and his friends celebrate Deepavali with gusto. This year, I will be in Dubai for a show."As an after-thought, he adds, "Maybe this year, we should make it a point to burst crackers as it will at least drive away the mosquitoes." However, for Devayani Medhekar, Deepavali is the time to renew traditions and customs. So she makes it a point to celebrate Deepavali and also go through the rituals associated with it."Maharashtrians have a five-day Deepavali. It starts with Dhanteras and goes on till Bhau Beej. Women have an elaborate oil bath on the day of Dhanteras and our celebrations start on that day. Usually, we buy something in gold. Crackers are burst and diyas are lit. On the third day is `Laksmi Poojen' when Lakshmi is worshipped. We make five kinds of sweets and five savouries. Now that my daughters are in Mumbai, I plan to buy the sweets this time," she says. Chitra also insists that her family stick to traditions. "On the day of Deepavali, we all dress in traditional attire and really make the most of the occasion. It is all ethnic. No electric lights or readymade eats. Earthen diyas, marigold, sweets... "