This is how Deepavali is celebrated in the most traditional manner in most households in Tamilnadu.
The evening before Deepavali: The daughter or wife suddenly realises that the dupatta or kerchief —- generally the least important clothing accessory —- that had all along seemed perfectly matched with the main dress they had bought for Deepavali, does not seem all that coordinated now.
The family sets out for a ‘quick’ last-minute shopping that ends approximately six hours later, as apparently the entirety of the city is also out shopping at the same time, and seemingly for the same dupatta.
Get caught in a traffic jam that seems uncleared since last Deepavali, and, if lucky, return home just before midnight.
Daughter’s mobile keeps chiming with sms alerts. As a rule, sons and daughters’ cell phones are most active after 10 in the night. You want the man who invented the cell phone to rot in hell for thinking up smses.
You want a nice, quiet sleep. Daughter decides to check out what’s on MTV. You wish the MTV guys rot in hell.
But you put your foot down on MTV. Daughter gives you a respite (for about 126 seconds).
Now she wants to switch on the internet and log into her Facebook account. You want Mark Zuckerbeg to rot in hell for thinking up the Facebook. Admonish daughter; she throws a typical tantrum. On an average, all youth put together throw up 56,000234 tantrums around festival days, with your daughter/son alone seemingly accounting for 56,000233 of them.
Mood: More irascible
Go to bed hoping the festival morning will be a lot lighter.
Deepavali Morning: Get woken up by the sudden earthquake and the loud clatter of houses dramatically collapsing. Realise it all to be the sound of the crackers that the neighbour’s kid has just set off. Check the clock. Time: 3 a.m.
The neighbour’s kid has only just begun. The rule ‘no crackers before dawn’ doesn’t apply to him. He will not end till next the IPL season begins.
You have slept for a sum total of 3 hours. But, you tell yourself, today is Deepavali. Perk up.
You have your bath hoping it will relax and refresh you. But you feel irritatingly sticky with all the oil and the useless arappu and seeyakkai (Note: For all those who don’t know what arappu and seeyakkai are, they are two natural items used in Deepavali baths to wash off the oil and make you feel sandy in your underarms long after the bath).
Take out the new dress from the box. It takes about 35 minutes for this. There are roughly about 23,789 pins and a weighty assortment of plastic, paper and cardboard stuffed on and around it. You realise they pack a new dress with more paper than it requires to print an Arundhati Roy essay (usually it runs 2.3 kms).
You check the clock: Time is still only around 4 a.m. and you’re already feeling the pangs of morning hunger. Anyway, among the very many beauties of Deepavali in the way it’s celebrated in these parts is the fact that it’s the only day in the calendar you are compelled to enjoy your breakfast at around 4 a.m. (And by this clock, you end up having your dinner, defined as the food you have after lunch, by around noon. By around 8 at night, you would have had food at least 12 times for the time).
Wife is morose that she is not spared the cooking duties even on the festival day.
Daughter is sullen that the new dupatta, you spent six hours to buy the previous night, also doesn’t go with the new dress.
Daughter decides to try the back-up new dress. On an average, daughters buy 47 new dresses for Deepavali. Generally, they will find something to feel vaguely dissatisfied with all the 47 whenever they try them out.
Daughter eventually settles for skirt. But you feel the skirt is way too short, by at least 7 metres. For the record, this is the same skirt you liked very much (and felt it to be a bit long) when Manisha Koirala wore it in a film. But dads, in general, want their daughters to wear skirts that end two metres below the ankle. In general, dads prefer industrial sacks as outfits for daughters, and micro minis for the likes of Bipashas.
Anyway, it’s not the skirt alone, the sms alerts on the daughter’s mobile don’t look like stopping. You feel like protesting, but realise the daughter has already gone into her room, slamming the door shut.
You check the clock: It’s not even dawn.
You have one more coffee. Since waking up you have so far had three coffees, two rounds of food and plenty of sweets. The stomach churns uneasily. And, suddenly, you realise despite all the intake, there has been no outflow so far. But no luck in the bathroom, the rule of Deepavali day is: Your stomach will behave more badly than your kids.
Deepavali midmorning: You sense the feeling of an incipient headache.
Ok, you switch on the TV. And then…..TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV,….. You watch a lot of ads, and lots and lots and lots of ads, perhaps, accidentally, a bit of some actual programme. You crib. But you still watch. Your wife is morose, but will still watch. Your daughter is still in a tantrum throwing mood, but between smsing, she will still watch. You all watch TV, till your eyeballs pop out of their sockets.
(If you have a son: The difference between son and daughter: Daughter listens to you and disobeys. Son disobeys you straight. His phone too will be constantly busy. But usually he is the one sending the smses)
(If you are a North Indian —- it doesn’t matter if you’re from Maharashtrain, to us, Tamilians, you’re still a North Indian —- you may perhaps replace TV with taash or teen patti, the card games that carry with them the technical possibility of no winning, but only losing. Government schemes are devised on this mode, too.).
(If you are a Mallu, you don’t generally celebrate Deepavali. You celebrate only Onam. But either way it makes no difference: You drink to the gills on both the days).
PS: The Day After Deepavali: You and your friends crib about how the TV culture is spoiling the entire culture of the land and how everybody else has become slave in front of the TV.