When you say festival, a Punekar instantly thinks of Ganpati, for Ganeshotsav is undoubtedly a festival closest to our hearts. However, Diwali comes very close to evoking that kind of response in us. We celebrate the festival of lights with as much fervour, but what does a Punekar really do during this festival? Here’s what you’ll spot me or any of my fellow Punekars doing during Diwali…
Celebrate of course!
If you were to go ask my grandfather (a pakka Punekar) what he would be doing in Diwali, he would reply in a very formal tone, “Sajri Karnar! Ajun kai?”. So that’s what my first reply would be too! Not that I’m mimicking him, I am a Punekar too and so, I am more like him naturally, a Pakka Punekar. We rejoice because we have a holiday and nothing gives us more pleasure. ‘Duparchi zop’ is our heaven. We are more jealous of a lukkha fellow who says he has nothing to do in the afternoon compared to our bosses or others working at big multinational corporations on high paying posts. We value leisure more than W.H. Davies, especially the line, “A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.” So, if you say celebrations, according to us it’s aaraam, watching a test match with chaha and biscuits, some poha, upma or khichdi in the evening and pithla-bhakri at night. We’re sorted. Seriously! Just add some reading material to make it all the more heavenly.
Get busy in preparations
We might be quite untidy or shabby throughout the year but, for Diwali, we move our @##*$ and get to cleaning. We get determined to clean up all the mess in every part of our homes. Some paint the whole house, giving it fresh colour. We get ourselves new clothes, maybe even TVs, etc. And we’re not really splurging if we are getting those amazing Diwali discounts, right?
Never visit a Punekar a few days before Diwali, his house will be a mess. There will be discarded stuff and clothes, cleaning of all the cupboards and whatever it is in the house, ajji-aai making preparations for faral and what not. However, if you have the bad-luck of visiting our houses now, do make it a point to come visit again on Diwali day. The same messy house will be fully transformed; floors scrubbed so you can see your reflection in it, lights and pantis (Marathi for diyas. Not a women’s undergarment or the Marathi plural of pants!) everywhere along with other Diwali decorations. Everything spotless! A Punekar’s power to totally transform his house during this season is formidable. Politicians can learn a thing or two from us and use the knowledge to transform the country!
Feast on the faral
Diwali is that time of the year when every visitor has to bring something, most often it is the highly-gifted dry fruits’ boxes (Ours can last us till the next Diwali, with enough kaju, badam, pista, manuke, etc. for every member in the house). However, some are smart enough to give what we really enjoy, the faralacha khana. Chakli, bakarwadi, pohyacha chivda, batatyacha chivda, shankarpale, karanji, ladoo, etc. make us dance with joy. Even better if it’s homemade, especially by some sugran kaku, dhamaalach! This is the only festival when you’ll see children and youngsters being very nice to ajjis and that irritating kaku. We even find reasons to visit them, because the minute you step into their vicinity, you’re offered faral that would leave you speechless. Even those always condescending Masterchef Judge’s. Anna he purna bramha and Diwali is a celebration of our God, right?
Become prosperous all of a sudden!
Now, prosperity doesn’t just mean money! A prosperous person is one who has enough money, a good house to live in (not palaces! A house with family members who we love is a good house), new clothes and gifts, family and friends, and most importantly moments of happiness. Yes, that is all that one should have in Diwali and thankfully, most Punekars have it! We get holidays with Diwali bonuses, thus there is time and money to invest wisely. We Punekars are seen visiting houses of our close ones or playing hosts to family and friends. We meet friends, who get time to visit thanks to the holidays and in short, we have a blast (not with firecrackers. Not the terrorist kinds either). While Ganeshotsav is the arrival of our favourite guest, Ganpati, Diwali is a festival of other guests (friends, family, etc.).
We wake up early, really!
We Punekars value sleep more than anything else. But Diwali is that rare moment when we can wake up at 4am. One day before Laxmi Poojan, on the occasion of Narak Chaturdashi, Punekars wake up early, massage themselves with oil and Sugandi Utna, have a long bath with those weird fragrance soaps (which are especially sold and which too are part of the most gifted items) and donning new clothes, enjoy the festivities. Children are seen making kille, dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj, adorning them with mavale, Shivaji Maharaj, horsemen and Dinosaurs (yes, you read it right! Our imagination has no limits). Why we make kille in Diwali still confuses me but we enjoyed doing it in our childhood days and will probably still enjoy it! Punekars are also seen visiting Diwali Pahat programs, especially the one at Sarasbaug. We may even attend more such programs or just meet friends and have a gala time! The main things are: we show off our shopping, meet family and friends, enjoy all the gifts we get and in short, rejoice in the festivities. Though we never say, “Pudchya varshi lavkar yaa” to Diwali like we say to our beloved Bappa, we do miss it all when it is over.
Before I get nostalgic and go on about how Diwali ended before it even started (with the clashing Saturday-Sunday only adding to it), I would like to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous Diwali. The nostalgia can wait, as we all know the best things in life end before you know it, especially the festivals. Once again, Diwali chya subeccha! Phatake phodu naka, diwali anandane sajri kara!