Deewali, the festival of lights, will be celebrated the day after tomorrow. I think, it is fast turning into the festival of gifts and not of lights. Gone are the days when thousands of earthen lamps used to be lit in every house. Mustard oil is so costly now a days and who has the time to take care of so many earthen lamps ? Who will buy them, clean them, put wicks and oil in them and finally light them. Then you have to keep constant watch. The wick may get exhausted in one lamp and oil in another. Some earthen lamps may not have the strength to withstand even the mildest gust of wind. You have to keep a candle handy to take care of them. Earthen lamps have the potential to keep you on your toes and deprive you of your best-loved TV serial. People, therefore, prefer electrical bulbs which serve them well unless the electricity department decides to spring a surprise on them on Deewali day. But electrical bulbs are hardly lights and the electricity charges are high enough to keep one's ambitions within reasonable limits.
But the tradition of exchange of gifts during Deewali seems to be back with vengeance. On the eve of the festival, markets are full of gift-buyers. Newspapers and magazines stop talking about corruption and carry big articles on how and what gifts to be bought. Advertisements appear, suggesting gifts for every pocket. Discounts are announced which you can avail only if you are able to catch the attention of the salespersons during Deewali rush. You need to work on your physical strength before you venture into markets on the eve of Deewali.
This year, I read articles on how to make Deewali gifts personalised and how to wrap them up attractively. I have been waiting for articles which educate people on how to make trinkets look like costly gift items. Of course, I already know how to make small items look big. This is pretty simple. You have to work on the carton and the wrappings - onion style.
Most people who give gifts expect the same in return. The value should be almost the same or more. Otherwise, they feel cheated. On Deewali, one has almost 100% chance of the amount coming back. It is not like the gift during marriage which can be returned only when a similar occasion arises next and is therefore fraught with risks.
There is one categoty of people which does not have to bother about this serious problem- officials whether in Government or in corporate sector. They are expected only to take and not give. For them , Deewali is truly the festival of lights.