One Christmas, one Ramzan, one Holi, one Ganesh Chathurthi, but two Diwalis... why?
Just watched the #GharwaliDiwali film - the 'ghar' bit took me on a lateral trip back to my college days... (Oh and in case you haven't seen the film, here it is.) Back then, I was always wedged between two Diwalis - I'm going to call them 'Home Diwali' and 'Chome Diwali'.
For some strange reason, South Indians (ok, let me be specific here - Illads/ Tamilians) always celebrate Diwali a day ahead of the rest. After having been cocooned in Chennai for 17 years, I made this life-altering discovery in BITS, when I realized that Home Diwali (the kind I celebrated at home) was actually a day before Chome Diwali - the Diwali celebrated in the northern part of India (and hence the Chome prefix - no offence intended). Whether it was because Rama came back to Ayodhya a day earlier or because Krishna killed Narakasura a day later, I could never say with authority. But the fact remained that it did change things for me in college. (Yup, we're getting to the life-altering bit.)
Diwali would happen bang in the middle of a test cycle. And we had a holiday only for Chome Diwali, which meant that not only was Home Diwali a working day, but we would also be writing a fricking test on that day. (All four years. Unfailingly. I wrote a test on Diwali. The fireworks would happen when I got my marks.) So, in addition to missing folks and home, one would also be Laplaced, Fouriered or Galileoed first thing on (Home) Diwali morning.
Another remarkable difference was that Home Diwali would begin at four in the morning. (Again, it's not known if it's meant to sync with Lord Rama's early return or with Narakasura's graveyard shift demise.) And because one had woken up at such an unearthly hour, the day would be brought to an end by 10 pm or so. Of course, one would have managed to visit a temple (to have a darshan of God), a theatre (to have a darshan of our matinee idol), 12 neighbours and 300 relatives in between.
In absolute contrast, Chome Diwali was all leisure and began by sundown - and boy, did the action heat up after that! In BITS, the mess would be closed and it would mean 2000 BITSians converging upon C'not for that paneer maggi/ dosa/ shake. And then hit the roads/ Nutan/ bottle or whatever it is that one hits after 10 on an awesomely cool night that's announcing the onset of winter.
At half past one, another Diwali would have gone, another day would be just round the corner, another bottle would have been empty, but one would be thankful for the two-Diwali syndrome. Missing Home Diwali and the ensuing homesickness would make one feel gutted, but then, celebrating the day with 2000 other BITSians, at C'not, on the streets, in the wing (before the warden arrived), in the QT (after the warden arrived) and in every other part of campus would drive away all the blues.
This was probably more memorable than all those Diwalis at home. It had a different kind of setting, a different kind of mood and a different set of emotions attached to it. But one just had to look a little closer to realise why one warmed up to Chome Diwali with such joy - after all, even 'chome' had 'home' in it. :)