Exactly twenty days before Deepavali my mother drafted the master-plan for The Annual Deepavali House Cleaning Programme. Even though she has been doing this for twenty nine years now, she took an entire day and many cups of strong filter kaapi to come up with the plan. As always my father was allotted all lighting and bathroom fixtures along with electronic appliances, I was allotted furniture and furnishings and the house-help was requested politely to clean all the doors and windows. The house-help was also sweet-talked into reaching out to all the four corners of the room while sweeping and mopping. My mother allotted the bathrooms, the kitchen and the pooja room to herself keeping in mind that she is acknowledged as the best scrubber in our family. Each one of us also has to clean our wardrobes and sort our personal items. Drawers filled with absolutely useful useless things like batteries (which may or may not be working), wires, medicines, rubber bands, pins and key-chains are the toughest to sort!

A major goal of the cleaning programme is to dispose the things we are not using, anything that hasn’t been touched for over six months. My mother insists we even give away the almost-new clothes that we cling on to with the hope of fitting into someday. “At least someone else can wear it right now dear” is what she says to my protests on keeping my favourite pale blue jeans which are so tight that I will choke if I wear it for longer than two minutes. The stationary bought in times of mindless shopping sprees also need to be done away with. Old bed spreads, useless crockery, damaged/ irreparable electronic items and unused cosmetics are also given away.

This annual cleaning is a routine for me. It has always been a part of the Deepavali celebrations. So I was surprised when a friend shared an article online about the ‘new trend of de-cluttering your home’ and leading a ‘minimalist lifestyle’. A ‘new’ school of thought believes that living in a cluttered environment makes us irritable and leaves us stressed. So many people have written blogs about how to ‘de-clutter’ your home and thereby ‘de-clutter’ your life. There are even printable cleaning schedules available! On further ‘googling’, I came across a ‘de-clutter’ sale in Japan where people join together and sell the things they don’t need and those who can’t afford to buy brand new ones buy what they need from such sales. In countries which experience harsh winters, spring is considered as the best time to clean the house and get rid of the unnecessary items that have accumulated over the year. Hence the concept of ‘spring cleaning’ is quite popular in North America and Northern Europe.

While Deepavali has become synonymous with shopping, thanks to online shopping portals which offer mammoth discounts, do take time to indulge in some Deepavali Cleaning. After all, the things you are not using will definitely be of use to someone else who can’t afford to buy it first-hand. Happy Cleaning! And of course, Happy Deepavali!

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris.

P.S. This was published in the editorial of Deccan Herald on 31st October 2016. DH Middle

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