- As Amrita spoke, Aryan's imagination soared. He could almost see the flickering oil lamps casting a warm, golden glow over the city of Ayodhya and a trickling through the pine leaves into their own chalet.
Once upon a time, in a scenic little village nestled in Himachal Pradesh in India, there lived a wise and loving grandmother named Amrita. She was born in a village named Kalpa. She was a daughter of the hills and had served as a teacher in the local school for many years. She had recently retired from her teaching job and now lived with her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson in a traditional wood chalet made of Pine and Deodhar trees. She often sat on a rocking chair in this picturesque corner of her world and watched the stream tumbling down the mountains. Her eyes sparkled with the wisdom of years gone by, and her heart brimmed with stories she shared with her eager grandson, Aryan, under the vast canopy of a clear starry night sky.
The year was 2012, the moon was in its waning phase. The air was filled with a tangible sense of anticipation. It was the night before Diwali, and Aryan sat cross-legged on a soft, embroidered cushion beside his grandmother, his eyes wide with excitement. His little tabby cat called Marmalade was curled in a basket beside him, her eyes shining like two beacons of light. “Dadi,” he whispered, “Can you tell me a special Diwali story tonight?”
Amrita smiled warmly at her grandson. She knew that Diwali was not just a festival of lights as we often call it; it was a wonderous time to pass down cherished traditions and stories that had been woven into their family’s tapestry for generations. “Of course, my dear,” she began. “Let me tell you the story of Diwali, just like my grandmother told me when I was a little girl.”
As Amrita spoke, her voice took on a faraway but melodious quality, drawing Aryan into a magical old-world charm infused with timeless traditions. “Long ago, in the kingdom of Ayodhya, there lived a wise King Dashrath who wanted to make his oldest son, the noble Prince Rama, the son of his first wife Kaushalya, the King of Ayodhya. But Dashrath’s third wife Kaikayi wanted her son Bharat to be King. King Dashrath was bound by a promise he had given Kaikayi many years back, and Rama did not want his father to break his promise. So, he agreed to go to the forest with his beloved wife, Sita for 14 years. His younger brother Lakshmana accompanied them to lead a hard life in the forest. The gentle princes and princesses were exposed to many dangers in the forest.
Aryan leaned in closer, his eyes fixed on his grandmother. “What happened, Dadi?”
Amrita continued, “One day, Sita was abducted by the wicked Demon King Ravana, and taken to his island kingdom of Lanka. Rama, with the help of his loyal brother Lakshmana and the mighty monkey God Hanuman, embarked on a perilous journey to rescue her. After a fierce battle, they defeated Ravana and brought Sita back to Ayodhya.”
Aryan’s eyes glistened with wonder. “And what happened when they returned?”
Amrita smiled and said, “When Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana returned to Ayodhya, the entire city was illuminated with rows of oil lamps to celebrate their homecoming. The people rejoiced, and their joy shone as brightly as the lamps that lit up the night.” Bharat crowned his older brother Rama King, and the family was united again. Ram and Sita were deeply loved by their people, and their rule was marked by peace and prosperity.” Their rule was called Ram Rajya.
As Amrita spoke, Aryan’s imagination soared. He could almost see the flickering oil lamps casting a warm, golden glow over the city of Ayodhya and trickling through the pine leaves into their chalet.
“But Diwali is not just about the past, Aryan,” Amrita continued. “It is also about uniting the present to the future. It’s a time for families to come together, celebrate and build bonds, for sharing love and gratitude. It’s about cleaning and decorating our homes with colorful rangoli designs, making delicious sweets like gujiyas, ladoos and savory snacks like chiura and mathris, We all invoke the Goddess Lakshmi, and invite her from Pataallok to enter our abodes and shower us with blessings of wealth and prosperity.”
Aryan’s eyes sparkled with anticipation. “I can’t wait for all of that, Dadi!”
Amrita chuckled. “And there’s one more thing, my dear. Diwali is the night when the sky comes alive with the most magnificent fireworks display. Fireworks are used to honor our ancestors and scare away evil spirits. It’s as if the heavens themselves are celebrating with us.”
Aryan’s face lit up with joy. “Fireworks! I love them, Dadi.”
Amrita patted her grandson’s head lovingly. “Now, remember, Aryan, Diwali is not just about the lights in the sky or the sweets on our plates. It’s about the light within us, the goodness, and the kindness that we share with others. We must remember to respect our parents, help the needy, share our blessings with others, do everything in moderation, and choose the path of righteousness, just as King Rama did.”
Aryan nodded; his heart filled with understanding. “I’ll remember, Dadi.”
As the night deepened, Aryan and Amrita sat in silence for a moment, gazing at the twinkling stars above, sharing their special bond. Amrita was glad to light a lamp of knowledge in the heart of Aryan and celebrate the triumph of good over evil with her family. She was thankful to have the fortune of cherishing an enduring bond that spanned generations.
She held Aryan in her arms and carried him to his bed. The next day the village erupted into a symphony of laughter and love. The air was filled with the sweet scent of homemade sweets, the vibrant colors of rangoli patterns for good Vaastu, and the dazzling fireworks display that painted the night sky. Everyone hung light fairy lights on their windows. The threshold was decorated with lit diyas. The goddess Lakshmi smiled from every nook and cranny.
As Aryan watched the festivities unfold, he knew that he was not just a spectator but a guardian of the cherished Diwali traditions that had been passed down through generations. In his heart, he carried the bright meaningful light of Diwali, ready to shine brightly in the world, just as his grandmother had taught him. He cherished the significance of this Diwali and hoped that he would share many more with his Dadi. Regardless this memory will illuminate his life forever.
Wish you all a very Happy Diwali!
With one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India, and a heart steeped in humanity, writing is a contemplative practice for Monita Soni. She has published hundreds of poems, movie reviews, book critiques, and essays and contributed to combined literary works. Her two books are My Light Reflections and Flow through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM.