Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Diwali Specials

Oh, what a treat! I have on my table 13 Diwali issues, neatly stacked, fresh, waiting to be read... and enjoyed. They are all in Marathi, brought out by reputed periodicals and newspapers just around Diwali. I don't know when this practice of publishing special Diwali issues started, but they were certainly around in my childhood. Most Marathi households, with their meagre budget, could not afford to buy these issues. Traditionally, they were borrowed from neighbourhood lending libraries and savoured by the whole family. Diwali was the undisputed 'king' of all festivals and these issues added to the festive spirit. The Diwali package consisted of new clothes, home-made goodies, school holidays, firecrackers and Diwali special issues back then.

Later, for several years, I lost touch with them. We moved cities. Diwali became more commercial and no longer meant the same to me. But I knew the issues were still being published. I am not sure if television and internet made a dent in their volume. Occasionally, a kind friend or relative passed on an old issue to me. I liked reading short stories, interviews with prominent personalities, articles, travelogues and more. Some issues specialized in humour. They featured cartoons, satire, short stories and poems laced with humour and double entendre...from funny to naughty to off-colour.

Photo by Prateek
This year, just for old times' sake, I decided to buy Diwali specials. I had never bought them before. It was not easy to get them as I have lived outside Maharashtra most of the time. Now in Chennai, I wondered how to go about it. I fished out a card that a sales person had thrust in my hands when I was visiting a renowned book store in Pune. I sent an e-mail requesting them to send me a list of all the specials that were likely to be out this season. They sent a list of about 350 titles, neatly classified into categories such as general, literary, women, health and beauty, mystery, crime, cookery, cinema, religious, spiritual, children, humour and Astrology. I was pleasantly surprised on two counts. First, because the store responded to my request so promptly and professionally, and second, to see that the specials are being published in such large numbers. I picked 13 well-known titles out of that list and placed my order. Now, some e-mail exchanges later, the issues are sitting at my home in all their colourful glory. Many of them are printed on superior quality glazed paper. I like their newness. And the crispness of the pages as I turn them over. I am looking forward to reading them over the next few weeks. A slice of the old times...acquired using modern technology.


  1. SImilar magazines used to be published in Tamil as well. Not sure what is the situation now.

  2. I enjoyed reading your posts. I remember the time in 70s in Delhi when I was a small kid, there used to be a gentleman by the name of Mr. Kurtadkar. He was a traveling librarian. He would bring us Marathi books all around the year, and specially around Diwali he would have a big stock of Diwali specials.. But none of those are in your list above! I recall Kirloskar as one of the magazines. Don't remember the rest...