Prince to Pauper, all are in the celebratory mode, because it is that part of the year, when everyone eagerly awaits the arrival of Goddess Laxmi to their abodes.
We are very well aware with the historical significance of Deepawali, when Lord Ram along with his wife Sita and younger brother Laxman returned to Ayodhya, after exile of fourteen years. The residents of Ayodhya celebrated this event with lighting the clay lamps with mustard oil, it also happened to be Amavsaya that day, so it gave all the more reason to people of Ayodhya to light-up the paths. May be it became synonymous with coming of Ram-rajya, which in those times implied, that, it was the establishment of ‘Law and order’ and of course equality.
Times have changed now, and Delhi gives a wider perspective to the significance of Deepwali now.
Residing in South Delhi, the Lutyens Delhi to be precise, getting to share space with the creme de la creme, can be benefiting as well as disheartening at times.
Deepawali gives you a better explanation of being an elite class or a middle class.
At least in today’s time and age.
Saheb ji as he is fondly called by most of the colony ‘maids, helpers or drivers’ doesn’t have to flex his muscle power, because it goes without saying that he is all rich and mighty. The never-ending row of sedan or swanky cars, that too, for a government official is not that easy, especially for me, as I happen to be a ‘Fauji’ . But it does come as a privilege for me to share the same block number as Mr. Saheb ji, who also happens to be my next door neighbour.
Diwali gift culture is more rampant in Delhi, as compared to rest of the country.
And what better view other than Saheb ji house-hold can give.
As per the internal sources, I mean my maid, the Goddess resides in the house of Mr. Sahebji, he himself has been residing in that house for more than two decades now. He has almost established a Ram-Rajya of today for himself here, but it is more of a luxurious one.
Well the grass appears to be greener always on the neighbours end, but what do , I do, to make my grass greener, I mean apart from watering it, how do I lure Laxmi ji.
Is neighbour’s pride my envy??
How to tackle the volley of questions by my maid ,when the doorbell of my neighbour’s is rung by unknown faces, and me like an alert neighbour peeps through my window, with my eyes widened, or at times hiding behind the curtains, only to be blinded by the glitter of the golden wrapped gift boxes , the gift bearers a literally pleading Sahebji to accept their gifts.. My maid just draws comparisons of the luxurious and middle class life. And how I just give her pack of pattisha available in the canteen and five hundred rupees for Diwali, and how generous my next door neighbours are.
Well I too, clean my house with equal zeal and effort, but still await a single door-bell for the boxes laden with goodies. For me its all about give and take, what i get has to be returned, its like passing the parcel, but not to forget, for me investment or expenditure is more than the profit , unlike Sahebji.
The coming for festivities gives me more of budget blues than enjoyment.
The bundle of rupees/notes dwindles or falls like a pack of cards, without buying crackers, my kids suffer the aftermath of bursting them , with air laden with pollution and dust, and I making regular visits to the doctors.
The dogs of the colony also know about the most prosperous house in the colony and can be seen making rounds outside it, as they are fed well there, but for them too, Diwali turns out to be a nightmare outside Sahebji residence as non-stop bursting crackers till mid-night , makes them hide in crevices. Poor harassed creatures run for shelter, after all its a dog’s life , they too soon realize.
More than merry making, I am counting my left pennies, Diwali makes me realize that I am ‘ penny wise intelligent and pound wise foolish’, I go and haggle with poor road side vendors for earthen lamps but in a split-second buy all the sweets displayed in the air-conditioned shops, but only to realize later, that people now days prefer dry fruits or fresh fruit baskets, as they have become more health conscious. Yes Diwali does adds on that extra-pounds to me, well that is the only gain I have , during this festival.
After cleaning the house when it is time to make arrangements for the Pooja, the actual Laxmi , I mean Saheb ji’s wife is dressed in her traditional best, ready twenty-four hours of the day making rounds to others place , at times attending visitors and excepting gifts and at times busy in the card parties.
Well it is Sahebji ki Diwali and his laxmi too, the commercialization of the festival has only added in gains of Sahebji.
After celebrating choti Diwali , Shaheb ji locks his doors and leaves for get away destinations, away from the polluted city , the family likes to holiday individually, but receive gifts before Diwali in unison, may be Laxmi ji likes the latest and modern things now, as she showers them more with prosperity and gifts of course.
There were times when as a kid, earthern lamps and electric festoon lights brightened my grandparents home, all houses looked just the same with colourful rangoli made up of dry colours and rice flour, the marigold flowers embellished the thresholds, streets abuzz with activity, wild life safe and sound in the jungles.
But now, the hectic buying spree is more of a staus quo, the urge to splurge and indulge in extravaganzas is about blessings of Laxmi ji.
I as a middle class, with my heart and doors open, still wait for the money Goddess, is it my greed??
Deepawali means the ‘row of lamps’, and as the rockets soar high making a kaleidoscope of patterns, the neighbourhood lightens up but only to realise that the next morning has been high jacked by the blanket of thick smog and the remnants of the previous nights celebrations are scattered all over , telling us that the paper rupee notes were so brutally burnt down .
Well amidst the bureaucrats, diplomats, embassies and businessmen of Delhi , amidst the conspicuous consumption, economics involved with proliferation of shops and kiosks, dealing with gift items and of course my wealthy rich neighbours, I just forgot to mention the other side, I was so busy highlighting my own grievances that I forgot that half the Delhi almost resides on the roads, with free pollution supply and free electricity of the lamppost and blaring light of the vehicles in the night, for whom the Laxmi comes through begging and they do not have to maintain the cleanliness part, as more shabby and dirty they look, more alms they collect, for their daily meals, yes for them she pays her flying visits only , rest Laxmi ji belongs to only Sahebji, she likes to laze around in the huge lockers, like his loyalist, and for us she pays her temporary visits.