Today is Diwali, a day which holds special memories for most of us. All year around we look forward to the festival of lights, to bond with parents, siblings, friends and friends of friends. We come together to chat, indulge in goodies, light up our homes with a lot of laughter and fill it with warmth.
Food, songs, cards, new outfits, new possessions, new homes, Diwali brings in its wake all this and more. Not too long ago, firecrackers too were an integral part of the festivities. But our responsibilities towards Mother Earth has increasingly made us more aware of the harm that firecrackers cause to the environment. So now the focus is more on green celebrations.
Don’t burst a pataka but nobody is stopping you from being one! You can choose to be a glittering sparkler silently emitting light or you can be explosive like a rassi bomb. This Diwali, celebrities tell us what pataka they like to be and why.
ENOUGH SPARK TO START A FIRE
The day when we are bursting with happiness and joy is here. If I have to describe myself as a pataka, then I am a phuljhadi. You need a phuljhadi to start the fire, to light other crackers. I have enough spark to start a fire and keep it going.
— Amruta Khanvilkar, actor
I don’t like bursting crackers because birds and animals suffer. If I have to be a cracker, then I will be an (eco-friendly) anar. An anar that stands alone and humming, impulsive and transient as the jumping sparkles; a two-bodied being who is rooted in dirt yet nomadic in imagination that flies out in a fountain and falls softly around her periphery.
Diwali means diya for me. A diya on a dark, moonless night. A warm-hearted diya that shares whatever little light and life it has with all beings, without discrimination.
We have a family lane in Udaipur where my parents, uncles, aunts and cousins, along with fruit trees, snakes, bats and birds, live.
My bhaiya Himalay and I would place diyas on terraces, boundary walls and steps of all our homes as dusk deepened into night and bats woke up from their day-long slumber. Our whole lane, twinkling for that one night like the night sky, remains my fondest Diwali memory.
—Arefa Tehsin, author
I’d say chakri represents me best. I like to keep moving. I like to multi-task, to be busy doing several things at one time, travel. I like to keep myself occupied, so literally ‘spinning’ around.
—Chef Ranveer Brar, brand ambassador, Parag Milk Foods
I would love to be a pataka because I am sexy, confident and ambitious (the only way in life is to go upwards), be it in terms of personal growth, professionally or otherwise. I feel I resemble an anar. Curvalicious and always ‘lit’.
— Anandita De, owner of fashion styling brand and a luxury brand event curator
I think the best way to celebrate Diwali is with family, friends and loved ones, eating lots of mithai and food! I love chatting with my folks and catching up on those things and events that I have missed throughout the year.
Diwali in Jamshedpur, where I grew up, used to be a community celebration. My friends and I would make ‘Diwalighar’ which is typical of North Indian celebrations. We used to make it with bricks and mud and paint and decorate it with leyee (glue made from wheat flour and all-purpose flour).
I don’t like bursting crackers, but if, I were to compare myself with a cracker, it would be an anar. I think it matches my exuberance.
— Shilpa Rao, singer
I don’t like crackers. I am scared of them, just like my pets are. So if I have to describe myself as a cracker, then I would be a low decibel pataka, one which makes least noise. And, that would be mirchi pataka.
When I was a kid, my friends would make ‘Diwalighar’ and light it up with diyas. But my parents wouldn’t let me make one. One year, I don’t know how, but my brother and I made one and that feeling was unmatchable. We were on top of the world. After that, we never again made a ‘Diwalighar’, so the memories of that year are really special. On Diwali, I perform puja, stay at home or invite friends over. I like a quiet Diwali.
—Payal Dev, singer and music composer
BUSY WHIRRING LIKE A CHAKRI
I work in Mumbai, while my daughter studies in Pune. I have to commute frequently between these two cities, managing my work, promotions for movies and serials, rehearsals for plays. Considering all this, I think the bhuichakra or chakri aptly sums up my life. Once lit, it spins fast, whirls, until it slows down and then finally stops whirring.
Temperamentally speaking, I am a lot like sutali bomb. After lighting it, you cover your ears waiting for it to explode. I am like that. When I am irritated with something it shows on my face and the people I work with on the film/serial realise it immediately and then they wait for the explosion. It happens soon enough. Later on, I calm down.
— Surekha Kudachi, actor
IT’S ALL ABOUT FOOD
All my memories revolve around food and Diwali is no exception. The highlight of the festival was participating in poori eating competitions along with a bunch of cousins and being crowned the undisputed champ for a record number of years, until, alas, most of them discovered concepts like calories, trans fats, size zero, dieting, mindful eating, health food, fitness and what not.
As for crackers which matches my personality — a pint sized, power packed, sparkly, spectacular creation that lights up the mid-autumn night sky? Well, that hasn’t been invented yet.
— Vibha Batra, author
A CRACKER-FILLED JOURNEY
My life has been a series of crackers, I guess. I was a chakri in my school days because there were thousands of people telling me thousands of things to do in life. However, engineering turned me into ladis, always on fire. Writing made me an anar, noticing, observing and staying with my roots and still sparkling, shooting light as high as the stars.
When I was a kid, my father would buy me safe crackers like Snakessss, popping strips and pencil crackers for me to burst. I found that boring. Even now, he tries to keep me safe, watching over me. I dedicate this Diwali to my father, who has always motivated me unknowingly.
— Anuj Tiwari, author
I would definitely be a phawara (flower pot). Everybody has good memories with the phawara, it goes up in the sky, throws up beautiful colours and spreads light. After all, who doesn’t like a person who radiates happiness all around? I haven’t come across anyone who likes being around loud and scary people. They are intimidating and, to be honest, super annoying. Like the phawara, I would want to spread happiness and light all around and make sure that people are having a good time.
— Nikunj Lotia (BeYouNick), YouTube Vlogger
I grew up in a joint family so we all would come together to celebrate, play cards and light up the house with candles and gorge on great food. A Diwali pataka that I resemble would be a chakri.
—Sachet Tandon, music composer (Sachet and Parampara duo)
I used to make handmade cards for my parents, relatives and friends. I really enjoyed making personalised gifts. That’s my favourite Diwali memory. As far as crackers are concerned, I like rassi bomb.
—Parampara Thakur, music composer and lyricist
SYMBOL OF VICTORY
I am not exactly a pataka, I am more of a diya. If you go by my career, there’s never been a point where I’ve actually exploded. It’s always been a very slow burn. People have always wondered, is he going to continue? Then occasionally they will look at me as a symbol of victory, they see my photograph and say this guy is a winner, he signifies victory of light over darkness. If you look at the Indian book of symbols, you will find my face as the symbol of victory. Also, I’m full of oil. I put so much oil on my head which helps ‘burn the diya’.
— Sorabh Pant, comedian
Model: Actor Amruta Khanvilkar
Styling and Fashion Direction: Akkash Shah
Outfits: Shailee, Prabhat Road
Hair and Make-Up: Gayatri Shah
Photographs: Susmit Deshpande
Shree Jewellers Camp
TDF — The Diamond Factory, Mumbai
(Inputs by Anjali Jhangiani and Alisha Shinde)