Felt like re-blogging (with a few edits) what I posted half a year ago because tomorrow is the 5th of November and I’ll be celebrating Deepavali in Singapore.
As a child I had always been fascinated by Christmas. Santa Claus, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, snow – it all seemed so magical to me. The most magical part was that whatever you wished for would come true. Someone out there made sure of it. I was mesmerized by Christmas TV shows that held this promise. I also loved Christmas carols and the how the department stores had signs that said ‘Xmas is in the air’.
I was totally awestruck by the Christmas tree in my cousin’s living room. My relatives on my dad’s side are Catholic and every year we celebrate Christmas together and that beautiful, glorious tree is always decorated. I spent most part of my visit with my eyes glued to that tree. The sparkly silver, blue and pink baubles, the miniature angels with their harps and even itty bitty presents. Wistfully I thought that Deepavali couldn’t compare. We had no tree to decorate and there was no Santa Claus to hang out our stockings for. My father always bought us Christmas presents (usually great books even though I longed for dolls) and that made the holiday even more joyful for me. I kept comparing Christmas to Deepavali. Christmas had the best tv shows with a lot of cartoons for kids, while on Deepavali we only had one Tamil movie which was the usual 3 hour-long melodramatic comedic fare with mass singing and dancing. Deepavali did have the best goodies to eat though. My mum used to make her lovely pink coconut candy, biscuits, jelly and loads of other irresistable sweets.
As I grew into my fourties, the meaning of such events changed for me. At Christmas you had colourful lights and at Deepavali you had oil lamps, but whether it was Christmas or Deepavali, nausea inducingly mushy as it may seem, without family, you’d be a miserable sod. When you grow older and have the painful experience of loosing those dearest to you, superficial longings dissolve. This year especially, when the whole family won’t be together, the saying ‘the more the merrier’ has full meaning for me. For my family members who are overseas right now and somehow have internet connection and are maybe reading this, I am looking forward to the belated party we’ll have once everyone’s back. Happy Deepavali!