Magical memories from my childhood. Shopping in the bazaar with my grandmother in the lead up to Diwali – the stalls stacked with dazzling silks, the smell of sweets being fried, the order in all the chaos around us, and just the sheer buzz in the air. Then all the excitement at home on Diwali day – competing to create the most elaborate “rangoli” pattern outside the entrance, lighting up scores of diyas in the evening on the roof, and finally, watching in amazement as the night sky was lit up by hundreds of firecrackers going up all over the city all at once. These are just some of the memories that Diwali still evokes in me.
A time for new beginnings. Diwali is also the time when everything seems to get a makeover – a new coat of paint on the house, new clothes for everyone and even new resolves for the year ahead! That is why one seeks the blessing of Lord Ganesha, the God of new beginnings. And so in a way, Diwali comes around every year to give us a second chance – a chance to look back at the year just spent and be grateful for all that went right and a chance to seek guidance to be better prepared for the year ahead.
And a lesson I never forget to remind myself of. This comes from a story that my grandmother used to narrate to the bunch of eager children huddled around her on Diwali day. Here’s how it goes. Goddess Lakshmi visits earth every year on Diwali to bless us and that is why we light up our houses with diyas so that Lakshmi can find her way in the dark. One year on Diwali day everyone in the city tried to outdo each other with the number of diyas and lights they used to light up their houses so that Lakshmi would go to their house first. But, unable to stand the glare of the lights in the city and repulsed by the brazen efforts to attract her attention, Lakshmi decided to turn back from earth that year. Suddenly, she saw a lone cottage lit up by only a single faint light. Curious, she stopped at the cottage and there found an old woman busy sewing. When Lakshmi asked the woman why her house was not lit up like all the others in the city, she replied that she was a seamstress and was so busy finishing her work and she did not realise it was Diwali that day. One hearing her answer, Lakshmi was very pleased with her dedication for her work and blessed her with good fortune. And the lesson is, as my grandmother used to put it, “You can only be blessed with good fortune when you love what you do and do what you love.
Now as a mother of two young boys, I am keen to share with them what Diwali and other festivals mean to me…and this is what inspired me to write the Amma Tell Me Series of which ‘Amma Tell Me About Diwali’ is the second. I hope that you and your kids will enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
May this year and every year ahead be full of lights for you. Happy Diwali!
*We are giving away three complimentary copies of Amma Tell Me about Diwali for HKYantoYan readers, if you wish to receive a copy for your children, kindly send us an email at email@example.com with ‘Amma Tell about Diwali’ written on the subject along with your contact details (full name, number and email address) and we will shortly get in touch with you.