Diwali Madness @ The Madman’s Farm

Blog submitted by Rhea , Photographs and video courtsey : Twinkle, Kishlay, Govind and Nidhi

This Diwali, Madman’s Farm was illuminated by a handful of diyas, fireflies, the stars, and the spirit of togetherness that connected us all. Six souls from different parts of the country, each battling our own versions of darkness, came together to celebrate the festival of lights.

With Shashi bhaiya and his family in Bhopal for Diwali, the farm was eerily quiet. There was an underlying sense of incompleteness without Bhaiya and Didi’s warmth and Chiku and Vishu’s vibrant energy. Being away from home and in the middle of nowhere, most of us had no great expectations about the festival. For the same reason, it was easier to put a spin on Diwali traditions and create our own.

Our humble mudhouse was adorned with delicately drawn chalk rangolis. The fragrance of suji roasting in ghee wafted through the air and made our mouths water in anticipation of the suji ka halwa that was to come. Our banana offering to Tulsi maa was stolen mid-aarti (with the agarbattis still intact) by our lovely but greedy dog Ammi. The crickets joined in on the bhajans and our rendition of Kabir Das’ Matkar Maya ko Ahankar, which was so delicately (yet clumsily) strung together with lyrics read off YouTube, beats of the dholak and clinking of daflis. The essence of the song is something that resonated with all of us and seemed to be the main theme of the night: six people on different journeys trying to make peace with transience.

खूट गया सिन्दड़ा रो तेल

बिखर गया सब निज खेल

बुझ गयी दिया की बाती

हो बुझ गयी दिया की बाती

रे जैसे ओस रा मोती

“The clay lamp ran out of oil.
The play scattered. The light went out in the lamp.
The light went out in the lamp, Like a drop of dew.”

Here are some excerpts of the individual experiences of the Farm Dwellers and our lovely guests.

“To me, Diwali has never been about festivities, firecrackers, or sweets. It’s about people coming together to celebrate each other, just the collective energy of Being.

Being away from home on Diwali, I was doubtful about whether I would feel that togetherness. But my Madman’s Farm Diwali gets a big thumbs up from me.

It was the small gestures: when we were drawing rangolis I started with a flower and Nidhi added on to it, and Pia and Rhea joined in too. I could feel the collective energy while making suji ka halwa, performing a small aarti, singing songs together. This was my Diwali. It felt like Home, like I belonged. I’m so incredibly grateful for it all.
-Twinkle (chalk rangoli initiator, Diya lighter)

“Diwali at Madman’s farm was really great. I have been here for almost ten months now and I’ve also been privileged to have the company of friends and guests (who have become friends) at the farm. It was nice to be away from the city. This was my first Diwali at Madman’s Farm and I look forward to many more!” -Kishlay (aarti dancer, bhajjan DJ)

“My wife, my daughter and I reached the farm on the day of Diwali. This is the first time I’ve experienced the festival in this way.

Before coming here, I had no expectations about what would happen. I came here to be one with nature, to feel peace. To just be. We all had a great evening. On the day we usually stay up very late, I wasn’t even awake to pick up my friend’s call at 11:30 pm. It was the first time I slept so early on Diwali. Together with Rhea, Kishlay and Twinkle, we spent the evening under a sky illuminated by thousands of stars. It feels like this is the way Diwali should always be celebrated: away from the noise, crackers and excitement. My heart longs for more time spent in peace. It was so beautiful.” -Govind (music maker, conversation starter)

“When we were doing the puja, I was confused about the reason behind it, its importance, which gods we worship during Diwali and why. I had so much fun while lighting phooljhadis, making rangolis with all my friends, lighting the diyas together. This was my first time celebrating Diwali away from home. I missed my friends. We usually dress up and burst crackers. But I liked that we didn’t burst so many crackers, that there wouldn’t be so much pollution and plants wouldn’t be harmed.” -Pia (Rangoli artist, human version of a phooljhadi)

“We have always celebrated Diwali with our family members, with a lot of lights and crackers, tons of sweets and home prepared dishes.

This year’s Diwali was different for me. Seeing the farm decorated with so many fireflies brought on feelings of nostalgia. The last time I saw a firefly was when I was five or six years old.

The theme of this Diwali for me was about facing both my dark side and my brighter side. About illuminating my darker side. The possibility of overcoming my fears and insecurities with a ray of hope.

It was magical, I must say. It actually opened a new dimension to life for me. There’s no need to follow cultural norms or whatever others are doing on a certain festival. You always have the choice to forge your own path, to discover it in a new way. The fact that there are multiple stories around one festival and the variety of ways in which it is celebrated made me realise that there are multiple realities.

Diwali is all about celebration. It’s not about how we’re celebrating in the outer world, but how we’re celebrating it inside us. How much peace, courage and happiness you feel within. This is the source of contentment.
I felt quite satisfied and content this Diwali and this experience will stay with me. Whenever I feel darkness, the fear of facing the darkness that is inside me, I’ll remind myself that I have already done it.” -Nidhi (Suji halwa maker, rangoli extender)


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