The festival of lights wherein the Lord Subramanya is feted will be celebrated in the evening. The occasion calls for lighting of lamps within the homes as well as decorating the exterior of the homes with lamps. Traditionally the mud lamps are lit with oil and wicks. These lamps dot the household and similar lamps are lit in various temples to mark the occasion.
The festival at our home is more significant as my mother began the purchase of a set of lamps made of brass for each year. The purchase of the lamps meant the draining of the exchequer of princely sums out of the meagre income of those days. Accordingly, painstaking savings used to be earmarked for the occasion. Secondly, it also called for finding a new design which would also go with the rest of the collection. These lamps would be washed to its golden timbre on the previous day and the same would form a part of the decorations. As years passed, the collection grew and slowly it needed to be housed properly.
The construction of a residence gave her the idea of placing a showcase in the living room at the top instead of its usual eye level position. This was adorned by a wooden frame which was decorated by carvings. Behind the glass doors sat the lamps in their pristine glory. It has always caught the attention of any person who visited our home and the unique position such lamps were provided. Unlike regular dolls on display or trophies on display, this unusual display of various types of brass lamps made it draw an admiring comment from one and all.
Soon, the addition to the collections stopped for want of space. Probably the ecstasy of purchasing a new pair was also lost considering their affordability. Any collector can find passion only when the article they are looking for is rare or beyond their reach. If it comes readily with neither much effort or cost, the passion dwindles. Or so I presume.
It is also the occasion for the preparation of certain sweetmeats which called for the use of puffed rice and beaten rice which was puffed. These are normally devoid of the husks but one has to ensure that each one of them are dehusked. This exercise was once performed in the presence of my cousin who was a tiny tot. Being a mere spectator to the exercise was beyond him as he was and continues to have a penchant to ask for some of this puffed rice as a snack. He was, therefore, initiated into looking out for the husks and performing the act of dehusking. The young fellow would term the husk to be a thorn and perch himself on the table. Thereafter he used to loudly observe " Is there a thorn?" "No" and the ritual would be continued much to our amusement. The amusement would only make him to concentrate further with the question and answer session which was supposed to be a soliloquy. We also had to repeatedly monitor the young fellow for he would just be reciting the question and answer but actually stuffing the puffed rice by fistfuls. This session is now performed by the adults though we are not permitted to consume what is meant for the deity.
The tiny tot has grown into a young man but this action of his remains etched in our minds much to the chagrin of the young fellow. Age has however not cast a shadow on the passion with my mother observes the festival. The occasion serves as another reminder of the stern will power the earlier generation possesses which we atguably do not possess at least in equal measure. Only a survey would either substantiate or disprove this observation but I hold this opinion.