There are two festivals in Thamizhnadu, which are celebrated with much gusto. “GUSTO’ is the word! PONGAL is celebrated as the celebrations of a good agricultural produce and DEEPAVALI for historical/religious reasons. There were times when my friends from northern part of India¬† were surprised that Thamizhnadu celebrated DEEPAVALI! Well, i was more surprised that they were surprised. There have been instances when my friends ‘father from the equator’ who asked me how Thamizhnadu could celebrate Ram Navami when the rogue Ravanan was from SriLanka, which most of those ‘farther from equator’ thought was a part of Thamizh culture, though politically and geographically distinct.

I had often resorted to telling them that there was an epic written by a great Thamizh poet Kambar eulogizing Rama and that parts of that epic were prescribed for students right through the school and even further.

Coming back to DEEPAVALI, it is a known fact that crackers are burst all over the country during the festival, but most people outside Thamizhnadu do not know that all cracker industry in this country is located in and around Sivakasi, and the cost of cracker is cheapest in Thamizhnadu. For example, on the eve of DEEPAVALI i had to cross Hosur, a town within Thamizhnadu, but 30kms away from Bangalore. A distance of 12 kilometers took me one and a half hours- despite the brutally efficient Thamizhnadu police. There are umpteen cracker shops which sprout during the Deepavali season- and hold your breath – do you know what is the discount on the Maximum Retail Price (MRP)? – it is 80% and they still bargain and get another 20% on that 20%, which means they get it at 16% of the MRP. Something like CANTABIL and KOUTONS eh?

The same crackers when they travel farther from the equator within India, the price gallops and reaches the MRP and above MRP in Kashmir and Ladakh. So naturally Thamizhnadu makes the maximum noise during Deepavali and if one happens to be a relative or friend of one of these cracker factories’ owners, the goodies arrive in cartons weeks in advance to your home and each year there are new additions to the rockets, sparklers, flower pots etc. etc. and the show is amazing.

But that is not Thamizhnadu DEEPAVALI, it is the PATTIMANTRAM which is the HIGHLIGHT of all activity relating to Deepavali. PATTIMANTRAM is like a moot court, with a topic given for discussion and there are usually 2 teams which take up the issues for and against. The topics could be literary, religious or social and never political. For example the topic given in one PATTIMANTRAM was WHETHER THE LYRICS WRITTEN FOR THAMIZH CINEMA WERE DEGENERATING OR UPLIFTING? another was WHETHER THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE SOCIETY HELP THE YOUNG GENERATION OR PERVERTS THEM?. Some of those PATTIMANTRAMS are telecast LIVE and people in Thamizhnadu hate to be disturbed at that time. One has to be deep rooted in Thaamizh culture and Thamizh cinema to appreciate the pattimantram. This PATTIMANTRAM is nothing new- they are held in jails, schools, any available auditorium all over Thamizhnadu. It is this which makes DEEPAVALI distinct.

My much-above-equator friends (shall we call them the POLAR ORIENTED FRIENDS contrasting them with the EQUATORIAL ORIENTED FRIENDS?) insinuate that a Thamizhan ( called Tamilian by them) can seldom be separated from his SAMBAR, but they rarely realize that the yearly PATTIMANTRAMS which take place during PONGAL and DEEPAVALI which provide CEREBRAL DELIGHTS -besides the sound and light of Crackers and the dainties served during the season-  and keeps the Thamizh community glued to the state of Thamizhnadu.

The interesting part is that the PATTIMANTRAMS are not named on the TOPIC OF DISCUSSION, especially when the JUDGE is a heavyweight- like Leoni or Solomon Paapaiyya.They are named as LEONI PATTIMANTRAM or SOLOMON PAAPPAIYYA PATTIMANTRAM!!

PATTIMANTRAMS are the true delight of DEEPAVALI in Thamizhnadu.


Deepavali/Diwali is the MOST CELEBRATED of all the Indian festivals. The reasons are manifold. But to narrate the happenings on the Deepavali/Diwali days in Bangalore reflects the concept of multi-culturalism gaining momentum in INDIA at the most grassroots level.

Deepavali is celebrated in the SOUTHERN PART of India (I personally hate the expression SOUTH INDIA, as it is redolent of a great political schism like in South Korea/North Korea, West Pakistan/East Pakistan etc.) on the 14th day of the month of Karthikai, and consequently falls a day before the day Diwali celebrated in the NORTHERN INDIA, which happens to be on the no-moon day, of the same month Kritika. The reasons for the celebrations of the same festival on two different days calls for serious research, and this blog is no place for it, i reckon.

The Hindus, as i understand it celebrate it as the day for welcoming the return of Lord Rama after the rescue of Sita. Another for welcoming the Goddess Lakshmi into the believers’ homes for prosperity- the business community’s celebrations are in consonance with this. There are many more beliefs and traditions/practices for Deepavali/Diwali celebrations by the Hindus.

The Sikhs are stated to be celebrating Diwali as the day of return of their sixth Guru after, his incarceration by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir.

The Jains celebrate it the day on which Lord Mahavira had attained NIRVANA.

This congruence of the day of celebrations of DEEPAVALI/DIWALI by 3 different Religions on the same day, and also celebrations on different days- by persons of different regions of the same country, have led to the secular colour of this festival.

At Koramangala in BANGALORE is a Township by name NATIONAL GAMES VILLAGE. It is mostly home to a drifting population of Yuppies, Government officers, Judicial Officers of the state of Karnataka and other persons who desire a peaceful, non-commercial neighborhood. There are many flats which have been converted into Private Guest Houses and houses for Paying Guest accommodation. Consequently, the residents are without roots and without the baggage of the sons of the soil concept.

It is in this Games Village at Bangalore that i celebrated this Deepavali/Diwali. It was truly multi-cultural. The business communities from Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of Maharashtra celebrated it on the 28th oct, 2008 along with the Indians from other Northern parts. The southerners (well sounds like the ones who went under the banner of Thomas Jefferson’s confederates!) celebrated it on the 27th oct..


I also had the privilege of attending the church service on the 26th Oct., 2008 at ST.MARK’S CATHEDRAL, no.1 M G Road, Bangalore. The service was at 10.30AM. In the prayers, the priest prayed for the HINDU brothers celebrating Deepavali/Diwali that week. I have been attending many church services both in the Northern and Southern parts of India, but it was the FIRST TIME that i’d seen such prayers being made in a church.

All in all, what is HEARTENING and ELEVATING is that a brotherhood among INDIANS is gaining momentum, by not being merely TOLERANT but participating in CELEBRATIONS of other communities and it is what i’d like to call the DYNAMIC TOLERANCE OF INDIAN ATTITUDE (tolerant had a negative connotation of putting up with, but this collective positive expression has given a positive inflexion to TOLERANCE). I hope that this gains momentum and makes us, Indians, dynamic in our endeavours and does not hold us up within the NARROW DOMESTIC WALLS.