My first Diwali

I have to admit that I had very little knowledge or insight into Diwali or what it means to Hindus, or the Indian population in general, before I moved to India. Yes, I was aware of Diwali, but I really had no idea. In a country that is known for it’s festivals, this is the big one.

From what I have read, inferred, and heard from people, Diwali is loosely translated into “row of lights or lamps”, and thus the festival is also called the festival of lights. It is predominantly a Hindu festival, but also celebrated by other faiths. The date of Diwali is governed by the lunar calendar, and it falls on the new moon that occurs between mid-October and mid-November. This year, Diwali fell on October 26th. From what I can tell, it is pretty much celebrated by most Indians, in some way. Depending on who you talk to, the celebrations last one, three, or five days. From where I sit, they last longer than that! This is the seventh day of some form on celebration in my community.

During this time of celebration, it is not uncommon to see buildings, cars, and people’s homes decorated, much like you see for Christmas in Canada, including similar exteriour lights.

Garlands of flowers are the most common decor that I have seen, but people also us palm fronds and other leaves, and diyas (small clay lamps) to decorate their homes.

I have also seem some Rangoli, which is a decoration made of coloured powder on the sidewalk, street, or courtyard of a home.

You can’t help but get swept away in the celebration. In general, the people that we have met have been very friendly. During Diwali that friendliness grows exponentially, and the joy bursts out. They want to talk to you, share with you, have you embrace their celebration. We have had several pleasant conversations with neighbours that we might have otherwise walked by, had it not been Diwali.

There are three things that stand out for me from this Diwali. The first is that you really need to research your choices when deciding to celebrate with an Indian wine. I had heard that Indian wines could be pretty hit and miss, and the one we chose was a MISS. We happily switched to Kingfisher, and all was well.

Second, I completely underestimated how much fireworks are a part of this celebration. They were at night for the first few nights, but have been building steadily. Yesterday was complete pandemonium! I woke to crackers going off at 6:30 am, and they went steadily until almost 11:00PM. The hours between 7:00PM and 11:00PM were the craziest, with people setting them off willy-nilly. We went for a walk around the park and watched several narrowly missed homes (including our own!) and several nearby trees take direct hits. Today started much like yesterday, but was slightly less intense.

this is the in the middle of the main road in our community

Lastly, we were the star attraction for some at Diwali. We ran some errands at the local mall yesterday and were literally swarmed by a large group of people as we were leaving. They wanted to touch us, hold the children, take their pictures with us, and generally marvel in our pale blondeness. It was the craziest thing that has happened to me in a long time! Perhaps ever, and that says something. I tried to take a picture of the mob around Willy and Goose when they were spotted first, but I wasn’t fast enough. The four of us happily posed til the lils had had enough. The group excitedly dispersed, leaving us giggling in their wake. One of them explained to Willy that many of the group, both old and young, were from a remote area and had never seen a caucasion before. What ever the reason, they were very excited to see us!

Happy Diwali!

Category: India, Photography | 13 comments

  • BeachMama says:

    Love it!! It’s like they were celebrating your arrival :)

  • Charlene says:

    So fun! Glad to hear things are going well. Keep posting.

  • Andrea says:

    How fun! I experienced a similar swarming while in Bali 10 years ago. My sister (very blonde) and I (very fair skinned) were visiting a Monkey Forest and a class of school age children surrounded us taking pictures and touching us. They were a group of students from the Indonesian Island of Java and had never seen blonde hair and fair skin! They thought my sister was a movie star!

  • smothermother says:

    you’re kids are going to be tourist attractions for sure! all that pale blonde cuteness. when i was travelling around i always had people asking to take pictures with me. i was annoyed at first, but then realized that i was taking pictures of them doing their laundry on the rocks without asking, at least they had the courtisy to ask!

    i loved all of the celebrations. holy is a blast. my favorite was the ganapatty festival (for ganesh). but it hink it’s because it was the first one when i arrived.

    happy divali!

    • Lilbunnyrabbitz says:

      That is a great point about the pictures. I haven’t worked up the nerve to take many pictures of the people, I need to get out of my shell on that one. This approach helps!

      I look forward to all the other celebrations. Tho Diwali is still going on!!

  • Capital Mom says:

    It’s like you are Brad and Angie. Bur your kids are much cuter.

  • Sara says:

    What Brie said (too funny). Enjoy your moments of celebrity (and the celebrations)

  • SL says:

    Love this post! Not sure how I missed it last year, but I am happy you shared it with me today! Thank you! I love the photos, actually! Great memories!

    Happy Diwali!


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