Across India, people are currently celebrating Diwali, a several day “festival of lights.” This holiday is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and even Buddhists, each religion recognizing this festival for a different reason. As you can imagine, the mythology surrounding Diwali is vast, as are its celebrations. I can’t possibly do it justice here, but know that generally it’s a thanksgiving for a successful harvest & fiscal year, and a celebration of a triumph of good over evil. If you can’t celebrate that, well, what can you celebrate?
The last time we were in India for Diwali was in the fall of 2010, and we were staying in Jaipur. We celebrated one night of Diwali overlooking the city from near the so-called Tiger Fort, enjoying a few Indian beers with some new friends; we spent another night in the heart of Jaipur, experiencing the colors and the sounds (!) of Diwali. And on Diwali proper, we intended on going back to Tiger Fort, but alas the streets were so busy that we decided to hang out on the roof of our wonderful homestay and enjoy the fireworks from there.
And fireworks there were! How to describe Diwali… From an outside, purely aesthetic perspective, Diwali is like Christmas (decorating with lights, gift-giving, advertising for said gift-giving) and the Fourth of July (fireworks, general merrymaking, fireworks, street parties, fireworks, did I mention fireworks?) rolled into one, on steroids. From our rooftop vantage point on the last night of Diwali, we had a 360 degree view of some pretty big fireworks (along with your everyday firecrackers in every number and decibel) from about 6 p.m. to 3 a.m…. non-stop. Literally. Imagine this panorama of constant fireworks against a backdrop of houses covered in “Christmas” lights–it’s my 8 year-old self’s dream come true! OK, I lied… it’s also my current dream come true. We just couldn’t get over the intensity of this celebration!
We hope to experience Diwali in every city in India, with Varanasi & Amritsar topping the list. Oil lamps along the ghats and fireworks above the Golden Temple, respectively… what’s not to love? During 2013 we will actually be wrapping up our Nepal trip during Diwali, so we’ll get a whole ‘nother flavor of Diwali celebration!
You can click the pictures below to enlarge them.