Himanshu Lamba (19) of Manjri is thrilled he would be celebrating Diwali with his grandparents after a long time. Papiya Bhattacharjee of Balewadi and Nupur Gupta of Undri plan to celebrate the festival of lights with simple decorations and homemade dishes.
“Preparations for Diwali have already begun. The entire family is busy with house cleaning. After a long time, I would be celebrating Diwali with my grandparents. I’m excited, though due to safety concerns, we won’t be able to visit our near and dear ones,” said Lamba.
“Apart from earthen diyas, lights and rangolis, I usually use flowers to decorate the house. However, this year I have planted flower saplings in my balcony. Additionally, as we could not make a trip to my hometown Alwar, I would be preparing annakoot for my daughter, a traditional dish made up of seasonal vegetables, well-cooked bajra and kadhi, which is made during this time in various parts of Rajasthan,” said Gupta.
She feels due to safety restrictions, the festival will lack its usual fun. “Traditionally, there is Diwali Milan in North India. Here also, we visit our friends and neighbours. This time we will be wishing and greeting them on video calls,” said Gupta.
“Celebrations at home will be humble, with homemade delicacies. We purchased our Diwali necessities from small vendors,” said Bhattacharjee.
For Bhavesh Keswani, Diwali traditions include worshipping ‘Hatadi’ or hat, a structure made up of clay. “Places of business are worshipped during Diwali and in our community, we worship the ‘Hatadi’. Apart from that, we have a space decorated for Laxmi puja,” he said. Keswani’s family has a home appliance showroom, which has been seeing high footfall in the festival season.
Animal activists Prachi Sharma and Elspeth Chen are hoping this Diwali is better for street animals. “We generally feed them extra so that they go into deep slumber and are not disturbed by the loud noise. I run a boarding for pets and usually we get full occupancy in Diwali as people go to their native places. I was expecting people would celebrate at home this time but we still have pet occupants… Our animal volunteers are prepared to attend to distress calls,” said Chen. “Some people are still lighting up fireworks. I am worried pets as well as street animals will not have any respite,” said Sharma.
Pune Kalibari’s Kali Puja this time will be kept simple. “It will be a simple temple pujo and ghot pujo. For our patrons we will have a live telecast, so that they can experience it at home. We also have made arrangements for devotees interested to book bhog online,” said Anup Dutta, general secretary at Kalibari.
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