Diwali has always been my favourite festivals especially, as a kid growing up in Delhi. It was a festival that came just at the perfect time in the calendar no matter which way you looked at it. It was the much needed respite from school, weather-wise it signaled the onset of winter, it meant a lot of dry fruits being passed around (a novelty if you belonged to a middle class family), new clothes for everyone, the whitewash, the putting up of lights, the rationed fire-crackers, mother spending hours in the kitchen making some traditional sweetmeats and of course all the mithai that came in from outside! Everything about the festival was bright and bordered opulent; middle class family remember?!
This year unlike any other year in my life none of the gift boxes that we received contained any dry-fruits or even mithai! I know as a recipient its bad manners to complain about the gifts that one has received. It obviously is the “givers” prerogative. But seriously not one box containing dry fruits or mithai??!!!
Marketers, yes my own tribe, have over the years stolen Diwali. They have used the all the vile and guile in the 4Ps to rob me of my Diwali. The beautifully packaged gift boxes containing products from the slow moving inventory pile. Delightfully priced combo offers on the run of the mill placed conveniently in the ever accessible department store or online. Finally promoted with messages on various media with emotional and economic innuendos.
The days when one went to the Lajpat Nagars and Karol Baghs of the world to buy dry fruits in bulk had been replaced a decade ago by the enterprising business who made the assortment packs in fancy baskets and partitioned cardboard boxes wrapped in transparent colour paper. One let that pass because as one giving the gift it took away the pain of making packages at home and as a recipient the assortment brought in even the more expensive hitherto untried varieties of dry fruit into the household.
Some wise guy or guys came up with the idea of why Diwali joy should be restricted to sweets alone and over time combo packs or gift packs full of “namkeen” corrupted the Diwali gift boxes. Not to be left behind the fruit juice folks jumped on to the bandwagon. Suddenly, dry-fruits and mithai were vying for space and attention.
Visiting one of those big pandals put up for Diwali by your neighbourhood “ABC Sweets” and buying the different kinds of mithai was such a ritual. The chena murgi, the kaju katli, the smaller dry gulab jamuns and rasgullas and scores whose name doesn’t matter but you would try out. All gone! This year I didn’t need to lose my patience with the bhaiyya because my boxes weren’t getting wrapped or there was no one to attend to me. A situation that was unimaginable as recently as two years ago.
I guess change hits you when it finally hits and it did this year. We received an overwhelming number of boxes of chocolate. If you too have been at the receiving end of this chocolate box attack you would have by now realized that there ain’t too much variety. I am bored, my kids are bored and a week after Diwali by refrigerator is still full of boxes of chocolate!
So those of you who are reading this and are amongst people who did send a gift box. You robbed me! You ain’t getting any dry-fruit or mithai from me no more!!