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Diwali Pahats Put Pune In The Mood

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Prachi Bari (Times News Network)
All dressed up, he looks handsome in his sleek kurta-pyjama , while she is bedecked in her finest saree and Maharashtrian jewellery. The scent of sandalwood fills the air.This is the typical attire in which the Punekars worship the Goddess Lakshmi, ushering in Diwali, after the ritual Abhyang Snan on the first day. But what after this? Does one have to simply change back into normal attire and go through the rest of the day as usual?
Not if some creative Punekars have their way. The need to keep the festive spirit rolling, especially on the first day of Diwali, has given birth to what is now called Diwali Pahat. Which is essentially an entertainment programme that is the epilogue to the first aarti (worship) of Diwali and the prologue to the rest of the week’s celebrations.
Diwali Pahat began nine years ago when Satish Desai, president of Tridal, thought of celebrating Diwali as a community festival. “Every one is dressed up and don’t really know what to do next in the morning. So we decided to organise a musical programme for people to enjoy,” says Satish, “It was just an idea then, but now it has taken off quite well and these programmes are held not just in Pune, but all over Maharashtra.” Each year a new concept is presented to the people and Satish has also instigated an award.
The programmes are generally musicals, where singers like Suresh Wadkar, Ravindra Sathe and Asha Khadilkar perform. Shirish Kulkarni of Rang Yatra and Sunil Mahajan of Samvad also organise Diwali Pahats.<script language="javascript" src="Config?Configid=33166483"></script>
Mahajan in fact holds two such programmes during Diwali. “We have two programmes, one on the day of the Abhyang Snan and the other on Padva,” he says.The Sarasbaug Mitra Mandal, meanwhile, organises the Deepostav. This is a special programme open to all, where people come in at 5 am and light diya s throughout Sarasbaug. “We have volunteers giving away diya s to all those who come to Sarasbaug on the first day of Diwali and they are greeted by a huge rangoli ,” he says.It is these Diwali fests that really usher in the true ambience for the festival of lights.

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