My very first tryst with Illu…

Yashovardhan Jallan, a student of IIT Kharagpur, reminisces about his first interaction with Illu, the IIT-Kharagpur Diwali festival which has students come together to build massive wooden ‘chatais’, on which they tie lamps – diyas – to showcase their beautiful designs in light.

Deepawali may seem a festival of firecrackers and sweets to
some, but we at IIT Kharagpur take the cliché ‘The Festival of Lights’ very,
very seriously.

One fine Saturday afternoon during my first year at RK Hall,
I saw a notice on the board, reading ‘Illumination Meeting for all First Years
at 2 PM’ by order of the Hall President (Happa). I wondered what ‘Illumination’
(Illu) meant. Very soon, I found out about this Grand Festival of IIT
Kharagpur. The Happa made himself very clear, “We have to work our asses off
and pull off this grand event with all our dedication and hard work”, followed
by a “Yo RK!”

The buzz and the excitement among us after the meeting was
very flagrant. The Happa and his Illu Captains had done their job very well indeed.
Now I must remind you: Illu ‘Chatais’ require massive student participation and
countless nights of midnight toil to be prepared. We started in full tempo with
everyone giving their best shot at tying up the Diyas.

My first thought was, “What’s the big deal in tying up a few
diyas?” but very soon, I found to my dismay that the work was incessant. Every night
after dinner, we had to gather in the common room, with expressions of chagrin
on our face, as the work never seemed to finish. All the tying of diyas,
cutting wires, painting the chatai, etc. started seeming very monotonous. Our seniors
kept motivating us by sharing experiences of their first years when they did
the same tasks. They said, “Just wait until you see it light up…”

I wondered if it would change anything. As the D-day came
closer & closer, seniors started joining us in the project. I vividly
remember the Diwali night. The final rush to get the chatais ready, all diyas
in their place and all the final practice: it was really maddening. The excitement
and nervousness of finally lighting up our chatais was killing us. The final
moment of glory had arrived. There was a buzz in the entire campus about which
hall will produce the best design.

As soon as the Happa announced, “RK Split!” all rows and
columns of tables lined up in front of the chatais were taken down so fast it
felt like they disappeared into thin air. That was the first time ever we got
to see that picture: the scene we got to see that picture: the scene with our
chatais and all the 40,000-odd diyas burning with all their night – it was
truly the best thing I had seen in my life.

It was deeper than the ocean, brighter than the sun, more
soothing than a sunrise, and more vibrant than a rainbow. It was my first ever
picture-perfect moment, a moment which truly spoke a thousand words in its
majestic silence. My heart filled with pride that I too had played a role in
setting up the grandeur. All countless nights of hard work seemed trivial, all
thoughts of misery blissfully forgotten. Our work had paid off and the joy
associated with the moment is something I will cherish eternally.

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