Today many homes will be brightly lit and chock-a-block with people amid celebrations of a festival that is keenly awaited by people of all ages. The young and old like to celebrate Deepavali with great enthusiasm, new clothes, crackers or sweets and savouries. Nowadays, TV channels dish out Deepavali related programmes with some novelty to lure more viewers and advertisers. But no one seems to be thinking about those who are disadvantaged. There are those who stay in cities and towns far away from their native places, unable to reach home and join others in the revelry. They miss Deepavali not by choice but under pressure. Some are unable to get leave or transport arrangements to reach home. Hence, they will be confined to their rooms in mansions or apartments which they share with others.
Their plight is palpable, especially because they may even be deprived of their needs in the everyday mess or hotel. They would love to get a local host! What they curse about themselves is their inability to share homely food with family or parents. The itch to leave for hometown is so serious that people who don’t find train tickets are ready to pay anything and take even premium services to go home. Unlucky ones arrive late. The festival now has more social importance than religious significance. Parents cajole their children, studying or working elsewhere, to eke out a short visit home. There is genuine concern on the part of a man to be with his wife and children and in many cases with aged parents or siblings and their families.
Those who have saved for the special day also try to raise extra resources and shop beyond their means as if there is no more Deepavali for them. In other words, each year there is a burning desire to make it the best day, and the following year they may get better ideas to celebrate the festival. This readiness to splurge is fully sought to be exploited by consumer goods stores by talking about special offers and discounts. They portray the deal as a “now or never” option and work extra days/hours to boost sales. They have immense faith in last-minute shoppers.
Many children who have settled abroad more or less permanently do not think along these lines and they mark the day with emails or phone calls. The elders who happen to join them in a particular year get a chance to celebrate with the same festive spirit and fervour in the company of friends and relatives who have made that country their home. They come back telling they missed nothing over there even after a gap of several years.
Some elders who are separated from their children or have none living with them have found an alternative in recent times. Emotionally and intellectually more matured, they have cultivated their altruistic side so much that they visit the homes for the aged and those without their parents or anyone to care for them.
Their visit to such homes not only boosts their morale but also gives great hope and joy to the inmates who come to feel that after all there are a few outside who are ready to care and share for them. The old and young in such homes also come to think that this is the best Deepavali they have ever had.