A few years ago, while going through old photographs of my father, I came across this particular picture in black and white. It was of my young father and his siblings standing together. What was particularly interesting about this picture was the clothes they were all wearing… because they were all wearing the same clothes. The same vertical line high collared shirts and plain bell bottomed pants. All the girls were wearing the same salwar-kameez. On inquiry, my father reminisced about his old days, “Those were the days. Can you imagine, we would get new clothes only on Diwali or on a family member’s wedding. Not even birthdays!”
On looking at my shocked face, he said,”We didn’t have luxury in those days to choose our own clothes. Once a year, that is, on Diwali, our father would ask the local cloth merchant to deliver a few rolls of cloth, the tailor would come home and take the measurement of each child and thus on Diwali, all clothes in the exact same colour, pattern and style were ready.”
We were slightly better off than our parents. Apart from Diwali, we would get a new set of clothes on birthdays. That’s it!
And, today, the scene is totally incomparable. I buy clothes for my daughter without consulting the Hindu calendar. Whenever I feel like or whenever there is a sale (both online and offline), I get new stuff for her. She has more clothes and shoes than occasions to wear them.
While doing my Diwali cleaning, I realized how much materialistic we have become. I have clothes lying in my cupboard with their price tags intact. Our life has become all about acquiring and possessing. More, more and more!
Holding on to this thought, when the big Diwali sales announced on all major shopping sites, I refrained from buying. Not even a single pair of shoes for me or a dress for my daughter. She is going to wear an old dress on Diwali, and that is alright. Millions of other children do, she will do too.
I want to teach my daughter the true value of Diwali – (no, it is not to buy new things, but) to be content with whatever you have, to share them with others and to find joy in the small things of life.
I want her to grow up not fretting over Diwali shopping, but thinking of Diwali as the festival to be enjoyed with family, friends and the less fortunate ones.
PS: My daughter and I have already taken out a horde of things; clothes (some old and new), hair accessories (even unused ones), shoes and toys which we are going to go on the New Year day to a nearby orphanage and the YWCA and offer to the people there.
Daan Utsav doesn’t have to be limited to a week, it can be whenever you want! So, why not on Diwali, the festival of goodness and kindness!