Thala Deepavali is always special. But, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Priya Thalur consider celebrating their first Deepavali with their dearest son to be extra special. Though they are a little disappointed that the cricketer will not be in town this time due to his professional commitment as the bowling coach of Tamil Nadu Ranji team, they’ve made it sure that their son Araan, only a few months old, enjoys the day. Both Balaji and Priya speak to us on what this festival means to them, their early memories and how life has been post becoming parents.
“For me, this is one festival which hasn’t lost its charm even a bit, over the course of all these years. The best part about Deepavali is, I feel it is not only celebrated by Hindus, but people from every religion embrace it,” says Balaji, adding, “Apart from this, I look forward to this day, every year for one main reason — sweets. Loads of them!”
On the other hand, Priya gets all nostalgic. “Deepavali in the 90s used to be a lot of fun. I grew up in an apartment , and every year, it was an absolute carnival. There were as many as 20 kids in our apartment, and as a little girl, I used to look forward to all those big boys who would get the crackers. I don’t think there was any time restriction to burst crackers then — we used to do it till late night and wake up as early as 4 am next day and start all over again!”
Quiet celebrations this time:
“As I grew up, I started reading about crackers and its hazards. So, I gradually lost interest in bursting them. And, this time, it will be more of a quiet and a pleasant celebration, especially with Araan around. I just want to keep him away from all the noise. With Balaji not here, we will just have a small puja, a nice meal and share sweets with our friends and relatives,” muses Priya. The cricketer admits that he is very disappointed at not being able to spend Deepavali with his family this year — “But, such sacrifices have to be made because of my profession. Even Sachin Tendulkar would have missed several family functions and festivals due to his commitment! I will really miss Priya and my son this time, but, that is how it is. Even if I stay home, I’d like to burst less crackers without disturbing others, and like I said earlier, will resort to having a good meal with my family. I also like taking Deepavali nombu, but don’t think I can do it this year.”
“He has already got a bunch of gifts, clothes and other stuff from his thaathas! Though he doesn’t understand anything, he is all smiles and happy. Personally, I would not raise him as a guy who would go around bursting crackers everywhere. I would always like him to celebrate the festival in a responsible way,” asserts Priya. Balaji, meanwhile, says, “I’ll call both my wife and my son. But I don’t really think Araan knows what’s going on!”
Life as parents
The pace bowler says, “Ever since I saw Araan for the first time, my perception about life has completely changed. I also got to watch from up-close, the sacrifices that mothers make and the pain they go through. I am and I will always be a proud husband and dad. Nowadays, I try my best to make sure that both Priya and I share equal responsibilities.” Priya concludes by saying, “Life has become more meaningful. I hope I will celebrate many Deepavalis with my family in the years to come.”