This blog post tells a story… a story of contentment… a story of celebration. It brings to you a new way, a new definition of celebration. Follow the story to get to know about our unique way of celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights…
Our pledge taken this year will continue forever…
It wasn’t intentional, but a spontaneous decision to go eco-friendly this Diwali. Of course, some of our sub-conscious concerns drove us to celebrate the festival this way. We couldn’t keep the promise up to 100% but managed 98% for this Diwali. We have no idea what would be the situation in the future, but we will try to go eco-friendly as much as possible in the coming years (not saying 100% because there is nothing like 100% in terms of the practical things we do; trying to be a little bit scientific :-P).
So, here is our story of ‘remodelling the celebration of Diwali’. The story began last year when we were looking for Ganesh-Lakshmi murtis. We were very particular about the make of the idols. We only wanted idols made of clay not PoP (plaster of Paris) or any other non-degradable substances. After a week-long wild goose chase, we decided to make one by ourselves. The next question was, from where we will get the clay? Clearly, finding ‘kumhaar ki mitti in England was not easy. Thanks to “eBAY”, which is constantly making life much effortless, for proving a boon this time as well. We searched for ‘terracotta clay’ and with the click of a button ordered 1 Kg of it straightaway. In the next few days, the clay was delivered and we were ready with the clay in our hands. The next question that popped up was how to make the idols? Well, the answer was again internet ‘’YouTube’’ (although we are not the “i-generation kids”, but still we are catching up with them pretty well ;-)).
We watched a couple of videos of idol making tutorials on YouTube, and realized that it was, as a matter of fact, a challenging task. But we were all set to face the challenge and were ready to make our first ever handmade ‘’Ganesh-Lakshmi murtis’’. Once the idols were ready we were so appeased and full of joy with the handiwork. Believe me, I never had the same feeling of contentedness before, and the very moment, both of us decided to do it again next year.
This year, we had clay left from the last year so, we only needed some stuff to decorate the idols. The ‘Dhanteras’ day was chosen for getting all the essentials needed, not just because it was Dhanteras, the traditional Diwali shopping day, but most likely because it was a Friday. Friday evenings mark the end of a busy and stressful week and the beginning of a relaxing and thoughtful weekend. Most of our tea-time discussions on science, religion, humanity, culture, tradition and politics etc. usually take place on these evenings. Although we never discussed ‘idol-making’ as such, the root of the idea behind the making of the idols, surprisingly, lies behind those Friday discussions. After coming back from our work, we directly went to the shopping place. We were looking for the decorative materials and suddenly Arohi’s eyes picked some ‘food grade’ glittering colours and we bought them immediately. We couldn’t find more food-grade glitters, so we don’t claim that all the glitters that we used were bio-degradable. That is the reason why, I said 98% eco-friendly, and not 100%, in the beginning.
Here comes the time for making the idols, the ‘Chhoti Diwali’ Day. We refreshed ourselves with tutorials and videos and were now ready to express our imagination with the clay.
Although we already had a year experience in this artisry but the making of the idols was still not a piece of cake for us. For the initial 45 minutes we found ourselves wrestling with the mud, we teased each other of our artistic skills and the very next moment supported each other for our intentions and efforts so that we don’t lose the motivation. Music was the other factor which kept us working. The same day we discovered that we can listen to “radio mirchi” here in the UK through “gaana.com”. We first tuned in some party songs and then switched to ‘bhajans’. Thank you guys for your help in our mission of ‘making murtis’. Gradually we were in the flow, we spent some time moulding the clay to give it a proper shape. After investing a couple of hours, we could make the idols look reasonably like ‘Ganesh and Lakshmi’.
Once we were satisfied with the contour, we were ready to display our talent of creativity in decorating the idols. Frankly speaking, we were a bit anxious to hold the brush and make the first strokes. By the time we decided to give it a go, we were hungry! And we needed a coffee break. We explored the fridge and managed to find some leftovers to eat with coffee, Bhujiya namkeen made the leftovers more delicious. Believe me, bhujiya namkeen (known as spicy savoury noodles in the UK) can make any leftover delicious. I think, most of you (if anyone reading this story) would agree on this point. If not, try it!
OK, now I will continue the story without getting distracted (I will try my best).
So, the next part of the mission was to decorate the idols. All the arms and ammunitions were spread on the table now. With the first stroke of the brush, the heart was filled with the joy and the mind was like, it’s gonna be amazing and we felt like we had already celebrated half of our Diwali in the true sense. Once started we didn’t stop for a minute before completing the idol. We struggled to paint the fine lines but managed to do it quite adequately with the thinnest brush and kajal pencil (kohl) we had. Ganesh-Lakshmi Ji’s idols were ready with the sweet little Mushak (mouse). We kept them at a safe place for drying.
It was dinner time and we were hungry again, but this time our hunger resulted from a feeling of immense satisfaction rather than our previous anxiety. We made some quick dinner to quench our hunger ASAP. While making dinner and during post dinner clean-ups, I passed through the place where the idols were kept and each time I couldn’t resist to stop by and silently gaze at the idols for at least 5 minutes and every time I was accompanied by Arohi. As we looked at each other we smiled and praised the outcome of our efforts and felt proud of ourselves. This was the joy of contentment with some sense of achievement and the real flavour of festivity. We also made a few ‘diyas’ with wheat flour dried them and then coloured them with ‘kumkum’ (red coloured powder made of turmeric and lime) and food grade glitters.
On the Diwali day, the morning and afternoon were spent in cleaning the home and preparing some food as we invited some of our friend at our place for Diwali celebration. In the evening, we decorated the house with flowers, buntings and diyas, worshipped the idols and then enjoyed the food with lots of spicy chats and gossips with friends.
I would not discuss here whether or not we should celebrate eco-friendly Diwali or why some people become environmentalists on the Diwali day and then don’t bother for the rest of the year. Without going into it, I would say since last year we are experiencing an eternal bliss, and at least 100 folds more satisfaction than buying and worshiping PoP idols and bursting crackers.
Ankit & Arohi