Celebrating Deepavali As A Family — A Rewind

‘Koodi Vaaznthaal Kodi Nanmai’ is a popular Tamil saying. And those were the days when joint family system was in vogue with entire family members celebrating the festival of lights at their ancestral home in elan. They derived pleasure in celebrating it with their Thaatha, Paati, Appa, Amma, Periyappa, Periamma, Sithappa, Chithi. The list is endless.
And the trend changed slowly and steadily with newly weds opting for ‘Thanikkudithanam’. And the joint family system disintegrated following nuclear families. However, my mind revolves around my native when I used to celebrate my dad, mom and other family members. The memories and moment still linger in my mind.
This diwali reminds me of the journey of our good old days. In our times, Diwali was pronunced as Deepavali. The word itself gives a lot of energy and happiness to welcome people with a big smile on our face. The spirit of festive season starts from Dusheera and travels through Deepavali and make us cherish the moments till Pongal. Happiness round the clock.
The best strategist in the family takes the leadership role with the congruent of elders or senior persons. The perfect one month plan for the occasion starts with high energy and people involvement. Right from the youngest to eldest members in the family involves in deciding the deepavali menu, cleaning the house and shopping dresses for the whole family.
The festive celebration starts with the shopping from “Aadi Sale” Discount makes us happier, 1+1 offer binds sister – brother equation, buying uniform dresses for kids, sarees for women and dhoties for men. In the hustle-bustle shopping, remember to take dresses for maids, cleaners and drivers. Considering them as a part of our family and calling them as anna, akka, mama, patti and thatta gives an amount of happiness. The new life and new person in the family gets the complete attention and special offers for Deepavali especially the bridegroom and bride. Thala Deepavali is like big Deepavali for the entire famiy. The customs and traditions play a major role in both sides of the family. Irrespective of all such things everyone is busy in getting ready for the light day. Can’t wait for deepavali to come as the new dresses kindle our senses to wear before Deepavali and get a new one for Deepavali. But the strict instruction not to wear before deepavali makes us feel slightly saddening. Even though when get an opportunity trying to open the cupboard without making noises, pull the new dress out, keep it on the body and feel the happiness of wearing a new dress. All children get united for this activity keeping one as security, spy and watch dogs. When got caught we nicely get scolding, vanish from the place, asking excuses and pleading for forgiveness. Such activity gets repeated till deepavali and always we keep the elder on toes or make them act as a security locker person for that particular cupboard.
This is happening at one side, on the other end family members sit together during lunch hours for discussing menu and allocating task to each other. The work starts well before a month with the basic cleaning of house and deciding on Deepavali menu. Deepavali means sweets and savories. High level discussion will be on with family members and kids for finalizing the menu. Menu list will be divided into two sections i.e. before Deepavali and day of Deepavali. The Deepavali day menu becomes easier as the list is standard for generations to generations.
Before Deepavali menu is the most interesting aspect to discuss. The noruks eating person is given the first preference for deciding the menu list as this person has better experience in sharing the shelf life of the product, ingredients to add and delete and tasting process. Then the master chef, cook and support person plays an essential role in preparing the palagaram. The most wanted persons during Deepavali. Each one shows their dominance and create their demands. It’s such an enjoyable moment to see them acting, talking and working together.
Each one allocate partial amount of money for Deepavali based on their earning potential and giving abilities. Never bothered or compared on individual’s share. They buy all ingredients from the common kitty and work is shared between each other based on their interest, skills and involvement. They start doing palagaram atleast 10 days prior to Deepavali starting with sweets as tradition then savories and end with sweets. The must sweets are laddoos, gulabjamun, jilebi, mysurpa and badusha. The savories are muruku, mixture, seedai, thatta muruku, karasev and list goes on. They finish all the work before assigned time as they proudly say team work is the secret of their energy.
In the midst of work, they sing songs, dance, pass comments, riddles, gossiping, sharing problems and providing solutions. The beauty of this whole process is that no one gets tired and doing the work with full enjoyment. They encourage and support each other. The work place or kitchen is full of positive vibes.
The sounds of laughing and talking makes people more curious to join their team. Their natural way of pulling the people in for helping and teaching the next generations to learn the process in a more joyful manner. Family members understand their right intention of giving them a work without uttering a single word. That’s the family bondage which linked them together forever.
During these days, cooking is done in the common kitchen. Few men and women together do cooking for everyone in the family. Always cooking is done more than required as walk in guest from neighbourhoods and relations are expected. At times, neighbours do share their kitchen and enjoy being working together. They share whatever they have and fill the stomach with love and care. More share more happiness.
Elder members are completely engaged in Deepavali preparations. They have no time to take rest or spend with their children. All children in the family are everyone’s children. Someone takes the incharge of handling children. No complaints from a child is appreciated. They have to fight and accept each other.
It’s a must to listen to elders whoever it may be. The elder children is more responsible to handle younger ones and ensure happiness.
Deepavali means Bonus. Much awaited bonanza for the ladies in the home.They prepare the shopping list much well in advance. Beautiful home maker with the thoughtful shopping list focused on the family necessity only. Even men in the family would love to buy those list with little cranky behaviour. The house is full of positive vibes and spread its wings to neighbours and relations.
On the day of Deepavali, everyone wakes up early in the morning to have oil bath. It’s a must to have oil bath. Without that the day is considered as inauspicious. Then the women in the family gets busy with cooking. The menu list of vada – 2 or 3 types and bonda. Simple breakfast with heavy lunch. Non – Veg is a must on Deepavali. Red meat is prepared in varieties of menu and served to everyone at home.
Children are more excited to show off their new dresses to neighbours. They exchange sweets and savories to neighbour houses. They give compliment for their dresses and appreciate their beauty. They get blessings from elders in the family and receive money or kasu from them. The children gets more excited with that amount and makes a big shopping plans or saving plans. Men and children are busy in putting crackers. The whole day is full of cracker noises and sounds. In the evening, they clean the roads and removes cracker debrises and papers.
Late evening, they spend time together on varandas and cherishing the whole process.
Families are well planned to spend Deepavali vacation with their loved ones. They would prefer to spend their day with grandparents, parents, relations and siblings. They travel from faraway places to be with their family members.
Getting surprise gifts, sharing the articles, playing together, eating together, taking family photos and complimenting each other. They spend the Deepavali with family members, relations and neighbours. People are back to routine after the big celebrations. They travel to their places carrying memories with them. The journey will be full of memories and moments. They feel their greatest support is their family members. The eldest person gives morale support, parents give materialistic support, brothers are pillars, sisters are emotional support and relations are social support. “I am because of You”. The journey ends here getting to regular life. Anticipating for the next Deepavali to come.
Till then travel with the memories…
Chellam Narendiran
+91 – 98433 14949

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