Varun Badola began his career as a costume coordinator followed by almost a decade as a writer and director. He has also acted in notable TV shows like Koshish – Ek Asha, Banegi Apni Baat, and Astitva… Ek Prem Kahani. He met his wife Rajeshwari Sachdev on the sets of Antakshri in 2001 and they later tied the knot in 2004. Varun’s role as a father commenced when his wife and he were blessed with a baby boy in 2010. Devagya Badola, now 12 years old, is the apple of his parent’s eyes and is growing up to be a smart young man. In a quick chat with Team DAP, Varun talks about how his family of three celebrates this festival of lights and why Diwali is his son’s favourite festival.
Team DAP: What did Diwali mean to you as a child? Has that changed now?
Varun: Even as a kid, Diwali was my preferred festival primarily because it is the festival of lights. I remember my first memories of Diwali are from Allahabad and my father used to buy crackers and so many of them that they would last a week! So we would celebrate Diwali not just for a day but it would continue for almost 5-6 days and we would still be left with a few crackers. There was a lot of enthusiasm for Holi and Diwali. Though I did like Holi too, for me, Diwali was always a bigger festival because of the crackers and lights and such.
Team DAP: What is your fondest memory of Diwali as a young child?
Varun: I think the fondest memory of Diwali that I have from childhood is of family and friends coming together because we used to have a lot of guests. We had a small garden in front of our house in Allahabad and I remember a lot of families would come with crackers too, so ultimately, we had crackers to last a week. That is how Diwali was celebrated back then. You either took sweets or crackers as a gift or a present when you went to somebody’s house on the day of Diwali.
Team DAP: How did u celebrate Diwali as a child and how are the celebrations different now?
Varun: My way of celebrating Diwali has changed a lot now. As a child, we would have crackers at our house to last more than a week but then suddenly we are at the age of 14-15 and it all just changed dramatically overnight. I somehow decided that I have used enough crackers in my life and the sound was becoming a problem. As I grew up in Delhi, the atmosphere there used to change after Diwali because of the pollution and frankly after the age of 14 I just stopped bursting crackers and it was more about sitting at home and being with the family. In the last few years, a lot has changed in the sense that even traditions are somewhat getting modified. I think all these festivals still remain in their original form in smaller cities and villages which I feel are traditionally more connected. Things change more rapidly according to time and need in bigger cities, so, yes we have also undergone those changes.
Team DAP: Do you share pictures of Diwali from your childhood with Devagya or tell him anecdotes?
Varun: Showing my son pictures is not really possible because cameras and picture rolls were not very easily available when we were kids, unlike today when every phone has a camera. As a kid, I remember getting ready especially if a photographer came to the house. My father was a journalist so I remember once he did book a photographer from his office to come and click pictures. But, photographs were a rarity in our time and there weren’t many families which had cameras. So I probably have a few pictures from the time when I celebrated Diwali in Delhi but by the time we had cameras I had
stopped bursting crackers so celebrations held a very different meaning for me.
Team DAP: Tell us about Devagya, does he enjoy celebrating Diwali?
Varun: Yes my son does enjoy celebrating Diwali, he is still in the crackers mode because obviously, he is still young. I live in a very very small society and there is only one young boy in this society apart from my son. For the longest time, Devagya was the only kid so he would go to my in-law’s place and he would celebrate Diwali with my brother-in-law’s daughter. Now she comes over to our place and he along with the other little boy from the society, go downstairs to burst crackers. Frankly, though he has been taught at school and we also tell him about the pollution that crackers generate, we haven’t put a complete sanction on crackers. There is a small, limited amount of crackers that he is allowed to burst because this is an experience that he should get. And I know that even at this young age he is intelligent enough to understand that crackers do cause a lot of pollution and they have just become customary and nothing more.
Team DAP: What does Devagya understand about Diwali? How have you helped him understand the true meaning of the festival?
Varun: The reason behind celebrating Diwali is taught in school too so I really haven’t ever felt the need to sit him down and tell him what the importance of Diwali is. Even as a kid, for us Diwali meant the start of winter and that is exactly what I told him first. For him, it’s easier to understand the concept of Diwali in terms of the change in weather rather than the whole Ram-Ravan angle and ‘sachhai ki jhooth ke upar jeet’ as these concepts are more difficult to grasp. He understands a lot about Ramayan but I have taken my own sweet time to insert the concept into him.
Team DAP: What Diwali traditions have you passed on from your childhood to your son? Varun: As far as passing down traditions is concerned, he does know that he will have to be a part of the Puja. He does help with the cleaning and decorations and becomes a part of the whole process. He knows that in the evening he will have to dress up and attend the puja, something that he is actually very fond of doing.