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Pregs Govender remembers Deepavali PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 29 October 2016 17:59

KZN Literary Tourism wishes our Hindu followers a bright and beautiful Diwali/Deepawali. In honour of the festival, here is an extract from Pregs Govender’s Love and Courage: A Story of Insubordination. In this extract she recalls her childhood memories of the festival of lights.

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For Deepawali, Ma soaked and ground dhal, chillies and dhania, and spent ages rolling the mixture into a paste with a stone shaped like a rolling pin over a grinding stone. She shaped it into flat circles with a hole in the centre and fried them into tasty, crisp vaddhas. She sat painstakingly folding samoosas before frying them, and made rotis and sweetmeats like polys (coconut-filled pastries), goolgoolas (round balls of sweetened dough), and my favourite, goolab jamun, made from condensed milk and flour.

We woke early on Deepawali day and had our routine 'oil bath', with Ma pouring castor oil into our eyes, coconut oil on our heads and sweet oil into our ears before our bath. I hated the smell of castor oil; Ma gave us a tablespoonful to drink with an orange to wash down the taste. At night we filled the clay lamps with oil and rolled cotton wool into wicks. We helped Ma place them outside on our windowsills before she lit them. All over Durban the lamps on windowsills lit up the darkness during the 'festival of lights'. When the inevitable thunderstorm broke, the rain steamed off hot tarred roads and the lamps were whisked indoors.

One of my most memorable and colourful Deepawalis began with a fight between my parents over the big box of fireworks that Dad had bought. Ma berated him for his extravagance throughout the drive to the beach. Once there, Dad placed the box on the bonnet of his car. Somehow a spark got into the box and resulted in a spectacular display of fireworks going off simultaneously in all directions. We were treated to a glorious cacophony of sound and kaleidoscope of colour that drowned out my mother's complaints (31 - 32).