When I was younger, religion seemed something lofty to attain, pious, precious. Rituals, on the other hand, seemed superfluous and trivial. Today, religion is at best an ambiguous presence I am happy to leave alone. It is the rituals today that endear me, enchant me. It is the rituals that I am convinced hold the key to creating a sense of family, culture and memories for my children.
We all know how precious rituals are. They are everywhere. It is the favorite coffee shop you go to after your morning run, the trip to grandmas every thanksgiving, the July 4th neighborhood BBQ. the pancakes you make every Sunday morning, the veggie patch you plant every summer. It is the diyas lit for Diwali, the candles for Sabbath, the fasting on Ramadan, the tree decorated for Christmas. A ritual is a feeling of belonging in the present and a gift of memories for the future.
Hence this Diwali, with kinetic sand rangoli, microwave besan laddoos, youtube assisted Laxmi Puja, flameless diya aarti we managed to create our own Diwali rituals. We sat together as a family for the traditional “Yenne Snana” (oil bath). We lit diyas around the whole house. We managed to put together a feast reminding us of our mothers’ cooking replete with kaddoo puri, saaru (rasam), kusumbri (salad), chitra anna (lemon rice). We gluttoned on sweets and fell into a sugar induced afternoon stupor. We visited friends and neighbors and wore new traditional clothes. We prayed for good health and prosperity. My three-year-old even sent out a special prayer for Diwali “Bhagwanji, If I am good boy please give me lots of candy”.