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Diwali got better after I left home—Gol gappas, grocery dinners, long walks for ice cream

Whatsapp debates to never-ending chores, Diwali at home felt less like a festival and more like an onerous task.

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Homecoming on Diwali is overrated and if it wasn’t for some shava shava and romance with Anjali, I bet even Rahul would regret going home in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Comfort to free food, one can easily focus on the good bits of family reunion, but hot takes like “why have you chosen the wrong career” or “how much do you earn?” are just not worth it. Needless to say, this has made me feel irritated with Diwali. But now, I have found a way to enjoy the festival of lights—away from stuffy family demands and nosy relatives. Moving away from home has come as a welcome respite, one that has helped me customise Diwali to my liking.

After dipping our fingers in a ridiculously sweet aloo chaat, my friend and I decided to keep going. We had another chaat, an overdose of gol gappas, cold coffee and then a few piping hot gulab jamuns to end our Diwali lunch on a high note. We leisurely walked in the market while others rushed home with glittery essentials. Sweet shops had spilled out on the streets, with every popular and humble delicacy on display. As lights hanging from buildings got ready to bedazzle the suburbs of Noida, we planned our dinner in a grocery store. It was the year we decided to spend Diwali away from home in our smelly little apartment.

Also Read: Diwali sweets and snacks are on their way. Here’s how you can ‘health-ify’ them

When Diwali brought discomfort

Growing up, my disdain and discomfort for festivals sat with me in the corner of my room. Everything was loud, and the cost of mithais and diyas was the subject of constant bickering. The rigidity with which we followed rituals riled me up. Women would make rangoli, deep fry puris and pakodas, tidy the house, sit for puja and wash the dishes before going to bed. I failed to see the joy in jumping from one chore to another. There was also the added stress of interacting with family members who forced their opinions on everyone while proudly revealing the source of it—some twisted version of a television news debate going viral on WhatsApp.

We hope that our parents start seeing us as grown-up individuals capable of taking mature decisions, but for many of us, it remains a distant dream. Even with the festive spirit bubbling all around, the conversations boil down to how you have so much more to change “for your own good.”

Also read: Why soan papdi is the least favourite Diwali sweet for gifting

The joy of small things

It is not surprising how we see less and less wrong with ourselves if our parents are not around to fix the lens. Possibilities seem limitless as we stop following rigid rules. As we stand on our feet, we can afford to walk on a path not chosen by our family.

Instead of spending money on tickets to sit decked up on that familiar sofa of ridicule and shame, it is better to splurge on ourselves. We don’t have to deep-clean our homes for Diwali when we can just do enough to make space for our loved ones to gather and have fun. Elaborate meals are great, but sharing steaming plates of momos with friends is equally fulfilling.

Praying to the goddess of wealth might not guarantee financial success, but investing in ‘beverages’ is always worth it. Quiet dinners, potluck spreads, game nights, long walks for ice cream, movie nights—even mundane moments feel beautiful in the company of a few like-minded people. Freedom to make new traditions, after all, is a rare privilege to have.

(Edited by Zoya Bhatti)

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