Deconstructing (the) Diwali Dilemma 

No, my dilemma this festive season does not root from the confusion of whether or not I should light India made Diyas or Chinese bulbs , or whether I should have a Diwali with or without firecrackers. Not for me, this moral or political high ground! My predicament is more mundane and it has a peculiar character & tendency of visiting me every year, without fail. The only thing I concern myself with on this festive season year after year is whether To Clean Or Not to Clean

Yes, my plight deals with the annual Diwali Safai, an integral part of the pre-festival preparations. No Indian household can afford to take this schedule lightly because is it not the clean, freshly painted houses that attract Goddess Laxmi, the diety of wealth and prosperity? 

I, vividly, remember being made to clean all the dabbas from mom’s kitchen every year when I was a kid. Unsuspecting, as all kids are at that age, we rather enjoyed this exercise as at the end of it we were rewarded with little bric-a-brac from the kitchen which could then be used by us when we played house (all girls did that😅). The annual de-cluttering relieved mom of things accumulated over the years which surprisingly were important once and funnily enough received such step motherly treatment when she threw them out. I have lost count of the times I heard her say, “When did I buy this and for heaven’s sake, why?” 

Now that some considerable years have passed, the responsibility of maintaining the house and carrying forward the grandiose Diwali tradition of Safai has fallen on us. The vein in which I started this write up makes it evidently clear that I am not too keen on picking up a broom and cleaning away to glory. In fact, I would do anything to avoid the eventuality of visiting the oft-left alone, corners of the house. 

My younger sister, on the other hand, takes after my mother and is brimming with ideas of how to, what to and when to clean. What to throw out and what to keep is next on her agenda. The atmosphere around the house is one of general de-worming, people who have pets or love them will understand the analogy- a necessary evil, in my opinion. Wiping, scouring, scrubbing, uncluttering, it seems is cathartic to her. It would have been solid gold, if she did not feel the urge to involve each of us in her party. She has specific, carefully scripted instructions for all of us and dare we go awry. She is a hard task master, my sister. 

Anyhow, I am, most of the time, spared the more gritty and onerous tasks because I have a deep set allergy to Dust. Speaking metaphorically about unpalatable & unpleasant things in life, a very close friend had once told me that such things have to be approached in a meticulous manner, just like one would deal with allergies. He said, and I quote-

  • 1st. You prepare yourself mentally that the thing which you are allergic to won’t affect you. I mean you need to make it sure in your head, a mental resolve of sorts.  
  • 2nd. You need to start taking little doses of that thing on a routine basis. No need to increase the dose. 
  • 3rd. In some time, you will note that it has stopped bothering you and the allergy is effectively gone. 

Now, I agree that it is a methodical approach to life and may work well for some pragmatic people, specially in life situations (he goes about and accosts all his life decisions, big or small, in this clinical and highly unemotional fashion)

But, it may not work for the likes of yours truly. You see, commendable as this idea is, I would still rather like to laze around on account of my allergy than to win it over and become a slave to my sister’s tyrannical Safai instructions every Diwali. 

Now that most of the pre-diwali cleaning is over, we can all heave a collective sigh of relief at home and get on with the shopping and celebration part of the festival. May this Diwali be safe and bring a lot of peace, tranquility, happiness and prosperity for everyone reading this blog. 

I have to be looking around for an apt gift for my dear sister after what I have done to her in this write up. She knows, though, that she makes all our lives beautiful, lights it up, just by being in it. 

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