Ganga Snanam Aacha by Sharmilee

Blog post by Sharmilee Sriram

Diwali or “Deepavali” as I have always heard from my childhood is an important and profound memory in my life.

I cannot claim myself to be a very chamathu girl and say there should be no pollution, no noise, etc etc. Okay I hear you loud and clear my dear environmentalists. My apologies but damn it, I am writing this at the most silent hour of the night from London. Even on Deepavali day, this silence will continue and someone will dare to break it for few hours. I am one amongst them every year of course.

This festival has three stages of fun and frolic. Pre Deepavali say almost a week before the festival. The Day. And post festival – mostly ends up with a bad or upset tummy which I would like to call the Deepavali hangover. 🙂

The pre stage is exciting. One of it being the shopping. Appa’s bonus will be a treat during this time in most of the families.

We all go as a family and buy clothes for each one of us. And that shopping mostly ends up in a Hotel as the parents tend to be a in a happy relaxed mood to grant boons. Moms and mamis love to see their sarees again the next day morning in bright sunlight. And they go gaga about it on the border or the type of thalappu…what not!

During the same pre stage, the next shopping is about the Tapas…i am sorry…Patasu….:-) The crackers will remind you of all the famous mass dialogues by the heroes of the Tamil film industry. Antha range! The very look of the array of the fireworks display excites you and sets the mood for the festival. We feel like ticking all the ones in the list provided to us by the shopkeeper. Amma would have set the budget before sending us along with appa. So we don’t mess around there. But mostly bought being the Sara Vedi…”antha 10,000 wala edunga” nu solrathae oru proud feeling. 🙂 Aparum as usual the Lakshmi, Atom, Hydrogen, Whistle rockets and other varieties, Vengaya Vedi, Kuyil…and to flaunt our valour to the kutti chuti ones in the apartment, Bijili Vedi. “apadiyae kai la pidichu poduvaen…naan la bayapuda maatan” is a standard dialogue during this time. After buying few boxes of Mathappu, one final finishing dialogue with the shopkeeper will be “Uncle susur bathi kudukalayae…”

Clothes check. Fireworks check. And now comes the most favourite. Batchanam. Sweets and Snacks. The home is generally filled with the aroma of ghee, the smell of oil after frying, sugar syrup, jaggery syrup, rice flour being roasted, urad dal roasted and many more…the most common ones are the Okkarai, Rava Laadu, Boondi Laddu, Maa Laadu, atleast one type of murukku for sure, Ribbon Pakoda, Mixture (mostly the first few times in many homes, I love when they add arisi mittai to it), gulab jamun, mysore pak, 7 cup cake and many more…yumm…When I hug Amma, she used to smell of Arisi Maavu. Her saree near her tummy is always wet or damp and endless hours of sweating out in the kitchen but without showing off the strain. The dishes are loads during such times and I used to help her with all that. Our another main job during this time is breaking cashew nuts….”Nalla podi podi ya cut pananum, seri ya?” will be the warning from her. 🙂 Ofcourse we accept to sneak few in the process.

The day – Exam ku kuda no early wake up. Body and mind ready only for this day alone. 4AM ku bling nu eyes open to set off the first sara vedi and to take pride in waking up the neighbours to our vedi…A mild nadhaswaram and thavil wakes you in that hour of the early morning and is just bliss and divine. The ganga snanam. As a kid I used to hate that yellow oil my mom makes especially on this day and the bath followed by the legiyam. It becomes mandatory to eat the legiyam or else you don’t get to go out. Tricky forefathers! Frankly speaking the legiyam always helps in the hangover stage.

Not very keen on a breakfast on the day. Busy in bursting off all the crackers, meeting and wishing friends and relatives, exchanging and tasting out all the other batchanams and followed by the TV programs. A definite family entertainer being the famous Pattimandram and then the “mudhal muraiyaga…vanthu sila naalae aana….” movies and other celebrity reality shows etc.

A nice sumptuous lunch with the family all mentally synced to each other by love and affection. One of those rare and memorable day in a life. A kutti thookam by noon and again gearing up to lighten the night skies with our rockets and bus vanam, sangu chakaram, saatai, pambu mathirai and other varieties. The Pambu mathirai was believed to be a mosquito repellent! Who cares, just light them up. The very big challenge is getting another mathappu fired up using the one that is about to extinguish. Evalo periya tension athu!

The post – you wear your Deepavali dress to school. Motivation to go to school. Goes off talking about some real brave stories and some cooked up ones with extra spice with our friends. Discussing about some minor and big accidents because of the fireworks. Or how we kept a coconut shell on top of an Atom bomb and blew it up, how we fired a rocket lying down on the ground to street end, making a hole in the ground and planting a double shot… Blah Blah….

Deepavali is all about making memories. Especially for kids and making an imprint in their childhood. Teaching them about family, values, sharing, love, affection, care and fun. The parents find pleasure in buying the kids few rupees extra costlier than the ones they buy for themselves. I have some vague memories of my parents skipping their dresses to just buy some new ones for us and to see us happy. No body wants their kid to feel sad during this day because he/she has less or no fireworks or he/she is unable to flaunt a new dress of their choice. Thanks to all the hard working parents, who sacrificed their wishes to see us happy today on this day and to make it a memorable one like our childhood birthday.

Of course I miss these days today sitting so far away in London. I miss the excitement, I miss the festival mood, I miss the sensation. I miss the sounds. I miss the scoldings from strangers and also the friendly wishes from all passer by when I was trying to burst a cracker. I miss writing my name with mathaapu. My kid will miss these too. But I am happy I had a childhood filled with so many such Deepavalis and its memories are here to keep me alive!

Happy Deepavali to everyone! Stay safe, stay happy, stay blessed.

Anaivarukkum Iniya Deepavali Nal Vazhthukkal!


8 thoughts on “Ganga Snanam Aacha by Sharmilee

  1. That was indeed an excellent write up.
    Every line of it, I could imagines my Diwali as a kid esp the arasi miittai in mixture 😀
    You completely made me nostalgic ! 😦
    Try to bring your kids for the next Diwali and show them the real Diwali in a TamBrahm house 🙂
    I’m sure they’ll love it !!


  2. In an otherwise nice narration on the occasion of celebrating Narakasura-dasi,
    the victory over evil or darkness, why use a swear word, I am sure, “damn” is
    swearing in UK too.
    The good Lord (if HE exists), worked hard to bring light to us all 9if you are a believer. The US Postal service is joinig (making a buck) introducing a
    commwmorative stamp (usps,com), it is an “agal oil lamp”.



  3. Excellently narrated. Yes its bring bk lot of sweet memories we had a decade or two back.

    Kudos fr th write up.

    Happy Deepavali to u and all bk home.


  4. Wonderful write-up. You covered all major events of a SI Deepavali at home. One more thing I used to do is try and crisp the crackers over a thattu on top of something cooking, to ensure Quality control when the cracker is fired up – absolutely crazy things stuff that I have done when young. Kuil brand, red fort, standard atom bomb mylapore/mandaveli late 70s/early 80s – fond memories. The pleasure of one pant /one shirt so special – instead of all the extra clothes one accumulates over years. Thanks for the memories.


  5. “Amma smells of arisi mavu” made my day. The dedication amma’s have during such festivities cannot be measured. Wonderfully written Sharmilee. You brought back tasty memories. 🙂


  6. Yes, the interesting narration is exactly ( more or less) what we all feel when we advance in years and the excitement we feel when our parents take us to the shops to buy ‘Javuli’ and ‘tapasu’ has been well portrayed here and also reference to Amma preparing ‘Bakshanams’ is all on the dot.. Nice and thanks a lot for the ‘Iniya Deepavali Vaazhthukkal” but i cannot get over the feeling that this narrative has been written not by a member of the fairer sex but a male. No lady will use the ‘swear word’ Damn’ whatever may be the provocation and the usage of ‘Blah-Blah’ is also very rarely used by women.And also no young girl will attempt to light up an “Atom Bomb’ covered with coconut shell or fire a ‘rocket’ in an horizontal position.This is my observation and may be I’m wrong. But my appreciation stands good , whoever has written this.



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