The actual day always amazes me. Everybody wears a new dress. I love the small vehicle stops in the middle of the road to wait until somebody on the roads finishes bursting fireworks. Me - Personally - I am big fireworks fan. If I became the Prime Minister (even CM would do) I would reduce the cost of fireworks to like Rs.5 a Red Fort. I would encourage more R &D into this and make Sivakasi come up with new fangled fireworks. C'mon think of it! Which country in the world would you get to burst fireworks like this? How many people living in the world get to do this? I can never get over the small window of opportunity that this day offers to do something incredible. I miss the days where the firework noises would wake me up at 2:30 AM in the morning. I would like be so impatient finishing of the nalangu, oil bath, pray-to-god stuff in the morning that I am literally bursting out of the house by 4:00 AM. This is why I loved Madras vis-a-vis even another place in TN (say Nellai). The 2:30 AM to midnight non-stop fireworks is special only to Madras. It may have stopped now due to silly political intervention but I loved it when it was alive.
Which is what I hate about living outside India(during Deepavali). I don't want to get into the whole topic of living in India Vs Living in the US. I am sure there are gzillion debates on this to fill up terabytes of internet server space. Everybody has made a choice conciously or unconciously to be where they are right now. There is no point in re-investigating the past. However, if the romantics want to talk on the aspects of "I miss India" it is reasonable to conclude that among the things people in India are blessed to celeberate -- Deepavali would chief among them. If I was presumptuous enough to assume that I would someday have a choice - where I could decide which country I wanted to live in -- Deepavali would single handedly sway the decision in favor of India.
Edit: Something that Anush's comment reminded me of. The legiyams (also called deepavali marunthu) is an awesome part of deepavali. I dont know who concocted this legiyam. The kick that you get out of it is awesome. The visit to relative's house (sometimes you visit them after 1 year) - falling on the feet and getting money.
The other thing that came to me was the way we lit the very first sparklers on the day. The sudden trickle and the sound is always exciting. From that until the last bon fire with all the kuppai assembled with 2 atom bombs thrown in is pure excitement. You know there is always at least 1 person who say "kaasu ellam kari". Although my favorite firework from Redfort (56 shell) to 2-sound, I think the big fireworks that go up and make a huge sensation in the sky grows on you as you grow old.
sigh.. I can write about this all year. I'll stop before I ..like.. get really sad. I wish all the visitors a very happy Deepavali. May all your dreams come true.