Half of the enjoyment of a festival is the anticipation of it. If there is no anticipation, the day can just come and go like any other.
I was saddened this year by the realization that I'd been oblivious of the impending arrival of Diwali. In India this is my favorite festival of sorts. The weather changes to a crispness, if not a coldness, in much of the country. Most cities are lit up with a variety of multi-colored lights, people are out shopping or are cleaning house, and on the big night there is a delightful multitude of fairy lights on virtually every dwelling. Still, my favorites were always the rough clay lamps called diyas, filled with sesame oil and lit with simple cotton wicks. In my youth my sister and I would be the ones to prepare the diyas by soaking them in water a few days before, drying them in the sun, preparing the wicks by hand, then laying them out in every conceivable nook of the house and garden, and finally lighting them all one by one.
This year, I only woke up a couple of days before. Diwali is Sunday, October 30th, Google told me coldly. I had missed the entire window of anticipation and preparation.
Still, last night, J and I put on some variety of finery and laid out a few cosmetic diyas and a few fairy lights. I made a rice kheer.
I'd better be well and truly alert next year. Perhaps we will actually be in India, that would be the most meaningful thing of all.