Diwali - the festival of lights. These days, in India, it takes on an additional dimension.
The Festival of SOUND.
Since many years, people woke up to the stirrings of soothing Ragas on Diwali morning. A tradition called the Diwali Pahat. Cheerful banter filled houses and colonies as elaborate Rangolis were carved. Women vied with each other during the Rangoli session - the most beautiful Rangoli would elicit lots of fake compliments with ingratiating smiles along with equally numerous sniggers followed by long-winded gossipy stories about the Rangoli queen and her mother-in-law and all the worldly problems that seemed to plague them.
After a never-ending afternoon soiree where jewellery and clothes were matched, compared and debated on, the much-awaited 'getting ready for Laxmi puja' started. The dressing done, it was time for a little devotion before the sweets were passed around and savoured. Diyas all around the place added glory (and light) to the festival atmosphere. This was folllowed by a small token of the festival of light - phuljadis were lit and the light emanating from them was thought to be the harbinger of a brighter future.
In due course of time, phuljadis were accompanied by anars and chakris, then by small tinny lavangis, then by majestic ladis, then by Goddess Laxmi herself, in the form of Laxmi bombs, then by the boomer Rassi bombs, and finally by the reigning banshees - the Sutli bombs. And Diwali metamorphosed from the festival of lights to THE FESTIVAL OF SOUND.
Today, Diwali morning is welcomed by the desperate -sounding bursts of toy guns. The day passes by in a succession of horrible sounding blasts and bursts, a build-up to the grand finale of the night. For a nightmarish amount of time, human ears enjoy being assaulted by gruesome and noisy booms which sound like a thousand Hiroshimas happening at once.
Welcome to the all-new Diwali - the festival of SOUND