Did you know that Diwali, the oldest and most important Indian festival, is celebrated on the darkest night of Kartik? It is a festival that symbolizes victory of good over evil and light over darkness… A new beginning! And one of the fondest rituals of this festive season is ‘Diwali cleaning’, as we believe that Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity, will surely enter a clean and sparkling house. However, given our uber busy lives, this task seems absolutely overwhelming! And we don’t even know where to start, right?
So here are a few amazing tips I’ve put together, from years of personal experience with balancing kids, a home and work, to make this task as effective and quick as possible for you. Don’t wait till too late or else you’ll exhaust yourself by the time the celebrations are here. Or worse still… you just won’t get a satisfactory job done.
3 weeks before…
When you actually start you will really wonder… when did I accumulate so much stuff? Every home has storage in overhead lofts, under beds or over cupboards where we stash away a lot of rarely or never used stuff. Here’s a good time to give away those old clothes, books, handbags, shoes, kid’s old school projects and hobby material. Best tip ever: If you haven’t used/needed these items in six months (unless they are winter clothes, formal suits or saris) its unlikely you ever will. Even old gadgets like music systems, DVD players, cell phones, chargers and all other unwanted items should be thrown!! I honestly believe this lightens the house and allows for fresh new energy to flow in.
Similarly now start on your everyday use wardrobes, makeup drawers and shoe racks… empty completely, sort out what you want to keep and give away what you don’t.
DON’T keep that ill-fitting dress because you feel guilty about how much you paid for it.
DON’T keep that old faded t-shirt thinking you’ll use it as a pajama top.
DON’T keep that ugly gift someone gave you years ago because it MUST be expensive.
You will soon learn to do without it. Believe me, it’s incredibly liberating! Then wipe the insides of the cupboards, drawers and shelves thoroughly with dry soft cloth. Neatly fold and arrange everything back in, so it’s easily accessible.
Documents, articles and other papers that you’ve collected should be sorted. Scan all important papers and file neatly in fun, colored, labeled files. Tear and dispose off all others. Select old assorted photographs of family occasions and holiday memories and get them framed. Arrange them around the house or create an interesting photo wall. This way, you can enjoy them everyday instead of having them just fade away in storage.
By the end of this week, you should have tackled your bedroom and living room storage completely.
2 weeks before…
The kitchen is the next place to do the same exercise! Empty out every cabinet one by one. In India, we are lucky to have help, making this work easier and faster. Throw away all broken pots, pans, mugs and jars. Old broken appliances like juicers, toasters, mixers etc. should either be repaired or given away.
Clean out the refrigerator, dispose of all expired sauces, jams and cheese. Wipe the inside thoroughly with soap, lime and white vinegar solution. The exhaust fan is a definite storehouse of dust and grime. Get all broken lights, fittings and leakages fixed. If you have any pests or bug problems, now is a good time to tackle it.
The week before Diwali…
Now you are ready to get the walls, floors, fans and windows scrubbed extra carefully, to give that last touch of sparkle to your home. Meanwhile get the drapes, curtains, bedcovers and carpets cleaned/laundered, so that they are ready by the time you are done with the scrubbing.
Diwali is usually a popular time to repaint and re-upholster your house. After the relentless Mumbai monsoons, most homes could do with this makeover. Even just a quick 3 hour wallpapering job of one bad wall or redoing one couch, can do wonders for the room. Similarly maybe one new lampshade, a new curtain, some fresh cushion covers on your couch… these small, inexpensive touches can instantly enhance your home!
Just like that, one week at a time, you’re done with what seemed like a very daunting task. Another great tip at this point…tidy a little everyday, every weekend through the year, and you won’t have to do a cleaning marathon next year. Is it true that cleaning up your home actually increases your good fortune? I don’t know that for sure. But what I do know is the magical effect it has on me. Being surrounded by a tidy and organized house makes me feel a bit more powerful and in control of my day and my life. A sparkling, clean house gives me immense joy!
Next week, we’ll talk about the more fun rituals of getting your home ready for this beautiful festival of lights… decorating your home!