You can stay up late and dance your heart out from tomorrow. Now, it is time for you to sleep,” my mother rubbed my hair gently.
“I can’t, Mama! I feel like dancing n…!” I yawned as my head touched the pillow. Mama smiled.
Navratri starts tomorrow.
When I went to the shops with Papa, I saw the maidaan was ready. Bamboo pillars stood tall around the ground, and colourful flags waved in the air. New lehengas and colorful dupattas hung outside shops. Didi was buying dandiya sticks.
Mama told me how she stayed up all night and danced through the nine nights when she was a little girl. Now, it is my turn.
“Where does the time go? Get ready, get ready!” I ran to my room when I heard Mama.
Mama put out the Ghaghra Devji Kaka made from her old saree. I had one for each night! I twirled as my skirt puffed up like a poori.
“Chotu, Do you have the bangles?” Anju Didi checked my jewellery.
“Aye, chutku, do you want me to hold your dandiya?” Vikram dada tapped his dandiyas together.
“Oooh, is this time for shola shringar?” Papa stood outside the door. Mama slid the mathapatti above my ear and leaned aside so he could see.
“Oh, my Gudiya Rani!” he beamed.
But I was not ready yet. Papa held my hand as we walked over to see Nani and nana. The mirrors in my skirt shimmered, and my chunri flowed in the breeze.
“Fashion show! It’s time for the fashion show!” Arun maamaa clapped his hands. Nani, Nana, Parul Maami, my cousins came running. I held my ghaghra in my hands and walked up and down.
“Come, my rani,” Parul maami brought out her make-up kit. A few minutes later, I was ready. You can close your mouth, lovely!” she said. “But I am afraid if I close my lips, my lipstick will disappear inside my mouth,” I whispered.
“Tell you what! I will bring the lipstick with me to the maidaan and apply it again. You can put your lips together.” She winked at me. I nodded happily. I smiled with my mouth closed.
Again, Papa held my hand, and we walked to the maidan. The aarti was already over.
Papa pulled up a chair on the side and sat with water and snacks for me. Dandiya sticks rang out as people swayed and swirled.
My first Dandiya raas where I can stay up late! My bangles jingled as I danced the night away with my friends and my cousins, my uncles, and aunts.
Chotu, you look like you are ready to go home. “No, papa…” A yawn swallowed my protest.
“We’ll come back tomorrow. We’ll come back every night.”
With that, he scooped me up in his arms. My head rested on his shoulder. Oh well! I’ll be back every night this Navratri.