It's a funny thing about rituals really, especially of the religious variety. For the most part, I dislike them intensely but some of them are inextricably linked with both the anticipations of my childhood and the contentments of my present.
Two nights ago, Diwali really began. After what is too long, I was sitting in the middle of a Laskhmi pooja, looking around at my family be more at peace than I've seen in recent memory - my mum, busy with the different parts of the ritual, my father, completely into the ceremony, and my brother and I, watching peacefully. That's how every single Dhanteras in living memory (save for the past few) has been spent.
For various reasons, for my family, the past few years haven't been as they ought to have. Somehow this year, a simple Lakshmi pooja has restored a normalcy and peace that I have, as a part of a unit and an individual, sought awhile. Amazing really, how easy it is to let things come to you sometimes.
This year's ceremony was different because the priest conducting it was not our usual one. That grand old gent passed away a few years ago. How I missed him this time. You see, as Indian, Hindu priests go, he was a dude - no other word for it! Tall, imposing and with a ready smile and wink for a child (and often young adult!) who couldn't sit still.
This new priest was a little more "with it", gave me analogies that were from a world of gizmos and technology and plain didn't have the personality of our previous priest. All the same, the ceremony was sufficiently similar to the usual one for me to be grateful. Change, it seems, always carries with it a portion of the familiar.
Tomorrow is the Gujarati New Year - among the most important days of the year for my community. It is, by far, the most important day of the year for my family. I will suffer relatives giving me varying levels of grief for various things and yet be happy about the great food and the new year that comes ahead of me.
I hope you've had a wonderful and safe Diwali and if you've been away from family, I hope you've had a lovely time with people you like. May the year ahead be full of all the benedictions that you deserve. May it also bring peace, love and laughter. Like I will tell painful relations in a few hours, allow me to say Saal Mubarak (Happy New Year) to all of you.
I know I started the year right. Please, oh please, leave it be this way! :-)