During Diwali Bombay (Mumbai) is decorated like a beautiful bride. The money-centric commercial city that Bombay is, its no wonder that no expenses is spared in making the city glow during this time. Every home/flat/bungalows/buildings ( both residential as well commercial ones ) brighten up with colourful lights and lanterns days ahead of the festival, making it something exciting to look forward to every year. Back in my home-town, diwali is celebrated with equal enthusiasm.

My first memory of diwali is when my uncle had landed in our house with bags full of crackers and fireworks. I was around 11 yrs old then. Before that, my diwalis were limited to 'phuljharis' and 'diyas.' However this particular diwali, I was introduced to a variety of crackers and rockets that me along with my sister lighted gleefully. So, this diwali is quite memorable for me. Needless to say, after that diwali, all the ones that followed every year always had more variety of fireworks.

The 2nd most memorable diwali was my first one in Bombay. I was just left awed at the sight of bright lights everywhere. To top it all, the fireworks on the marine drive were simply awesome. Its a different kind of thrill to watch all types of colourful rockets go up and blast one after another over the sea. The sea makes the sight mesmerising. I used to live near the sea that overlooked the bandra-worli sea stretch and there used to be fireworks over there too, but nothing matches the magnificent display at marine drive. Many people throng to that place just to watch the fireworks on that day. The crowd makes it look like a night picnic or mela of sorts. And when it is diwali, how can I forget mentioning the tasty yummy mouth-watering sweets. I feel the light-walas, the mithai-walas and the fireworks-walas makes crores of business during this time. Not to mention the 'clothes-walas' raking in big time as well with everyone all decked up in new clothes during the festivities. People play cards too during this festival, betting and winning ( or sometimes even losing ) money. However, I must confess, I did not try playing cards yet.

The 3rd most memorable diwali was the day I had taken a flight from Kolkata to Bombay. I had thought that because I was up aboard a plane I would miss diwali. The flight was delayed too, so I would not be able to celebrate. It was over 11pm that the pilot announced us to fasten our seatbelts, that we had reached Bombay and would land soon. It was dark outside as it was already night. Being in my window seat, I casually glanced down, hoping I could spot the city.
However, I became speechless at what I saw from thousands of feet above. Bombay, the whole city, was glittering like some golden jewellery piece down below. The whole city was illuminated and it was a breath taking view from above. Never had I seen anything sparkle like this. The city was sparkling. Words just cannot describe the majestic view that I had of Bombay, from the skies.
So,I did not miss Diwali at all. Rather it became more special with the wonderful sight that I saw from far above. I'll never forget that diwali.

After years of observing diwali, and enjoying it too, I am of the opinion that it is one of the best festivals that we have. We should be proud that we still have our ancient traditions and festivals alive, inspite of being thousands of years under foreign invasions and occupancy like mughals, british etc. While other ancient civilisations like Greek, Egyptian, Mayan, Incan got wiped out due to the spread of Christianity and Islam, we Indians, still have our ancient culture alive and intact, having survived numerous attacks on us. We should cherish what our ancestors have fought and preserved for us, and we must do the same for the coming generations. Personally,I look at diwali more as a cultural festival and not much as a religious one.

Diwali has not one but many stories of how it originated. All incredible stories! Though some of them may rattle our grey cells, still its interesting to find out what our ancestors believed in.

In ancient times, we didnt have TV/Internet, yet we find that the festival is spread in all corners of the country and celebrated in the same way by everyone inspite of having cultural and linguistic diversities. So, if without technology, the festival has managed to spread every where far and wide, then there must be something truely grand about it from ancient times itself. And we need to respect and salute it.
Love & Light! Nandini Deka.
PS : Please Care for the health of our environment as well our own and celebrate Diwali as noiselessly as possible. Lets express diwali only through lights and not by noise! Thank you :-)

Some popular and interesting stories about the origin of diwali and its meaning >>

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