The most beautiful time of the year is here again. The time which reminds me of the time gone by.

Diwali has been the most festive time at the Garg household, always. And now that the clan has moved on to the individual nuclear setups and each nucleus has its own little stream of week-long festivities, the onset of Diwali always takes me back to the time when the entire family stayed together, ate together and celebrated together.

Fresh flowers would adorn the house, and each member of the family was supposed to dress up in the traditional fineries. The sweet smell of rosewater, cardamom and cinnamon would waft through the kitchens, and the traditional feast of no less than eighteen dishes was prepared on the big night. Evenings were characterized by designing rangolis in every courtyard and corridor of the sprawling mansion. The two-hour long pooja session would be orchestrated by the family pundit, where the cousins retreated in the background playing pranks on each other. Pointing and laughing games would ensue when the mantras and shlokas had someone’s name embedded in them. The girls and women of the family would receive cash and gifts and status of goddesses, even if just for a day; and the little boys would stand in a corner, sulking.

Festivities would continue till late, with everyone assembling on the terrace, lighting up the night sky with an array of fireworks. And standing in a corner, far away from the maddening crowd jostling for their turn to light another sparkler, my heart would swell up with the sight of my own little piece of the glimmering sky, brought alive in my balcony by the little fairy lights.

Times have changed, people have moved on, and that balcony doesn’t exist anymore. But the swinging pretty lights are still the same – the only continuing part of the tradition. Every year, they recreate that magical time when life was a fairy tale, bringing me my own little piece of the glimmering sky all over again.