Thursday, 15 November 2012

Delhi Diwali

I guess if I was Hindi, I could say " its that season of the year again, Diwali". For sure, it is a season marked by many days of celebration. Celebrations start 10 days before the actual diwali on a day called Dusserha. This is the day that Lord Ram defeated an evil King called Ravan who had taken his wife and held her captive. One cyber cafe owner I asked about Dusserha told me Ravan was a very evil King, the worst there could ever be. He was satan! However, some people say that in a way, he planned to take Rama's wife so that he ( Lord Ram) would come after him and kill him and therefore promote him to a better afterlife ( I forget what it is called - the afterlife that is!). So, Dusserha is the day Lord Ram kills Ravan. 10 days later, Lord Rams' (self imposed) exile ends and he returns to his people to great celebration and fireworks.

Another version I heard recently is that Diwali is really a festival for Northern India. The Indians in Northern India are said to have come down from the Caspian sea ( part of Europe I guess) and they occupied the North that was then known as Vedic India. They pushed the original occupants towards the South. Lord Ram was King of the North while Ravan was King of the South. King Ravan took Lord Rama's wife captive as a way to prove a point to Lord Rama ( sort of a political manouvre of some sort). Lord Ram went after him and with the help of a monkey tribe ( who were humans but with tails and special powers ), he defeated King Ravan and killed him. He thereafter returned home to Diwali. Diwali is therefore not such a big thing in South India as it is the day their King was killed - or so my historian told me.

Whatever the story, and I am sure there may be other versions, at least they all agree on a few things. Lord Ram killed King Ravan and therefore Dusserha and Lord ram returned home and therefore Diwali.

In Diwali season, everything is on sale. One custom is that you should wear new clothes on Diwali. There is also a day about 3 days before Diwali when you are supposed to exchange kitchen ware and a day after diwali when brothers are hosted by their sisters and gifts are exchanged. In short, November has more holidays that working days if you include the weekends as holidays. Luckily, not all the holidays are public holidays so work still flows.

The usual grocery stores and milk shops are transformed into sweet shops. Chocolate and nuts everywhere. If you have a sweet tooth, Diwali is the season for you. Fireworks begin to reverberate through the night well before Diwali. Our neighbours told us we aint seen nothing yet but we could not imagine that it could get any noisier. The last 1 week or so has been like living in a battle zone with staccato outburst of a sub machine gun here, followed by earth shaking 'boom, boom' of heavy artillery complete with the sound of debri falling from the sky. However we adjusted well, until Diwali arrived.

The day started pretty normal. At around 8.30pm, it was like all hell broke lose. The city was literally on fire with fireworks in every direction. They do it on the street in front of their houses and there will be varied types of firecrackers. By around 10 pm, the air was thick with smoke and dust. It was like walking through a fog of smoke and dust. Cases of asthma actually sky rocket during this time. Every one is so happy and jolly and we were invited to watch the crackers go off. It was quite a show that went on till 1 am. The next morning and upto 2 days later, one can still hear sporadic 'gunshots' as kids find unexploded crackers and do some justice on them. Others are trying to get rid of their stocks. I imagined that if it was a true battle ground, these would be the rear guard passing through and shooting randomly at anything that moves.

Did I mention, the lights. These people pull no punches when it comes to lighting up the house at Diwali. One may even think the whole estate has been tranformed into a big Mall with flashing  lights all over.
In short, Diwali was enjoyable to watch. These guys party like our Lakeside brothers but went to Central province business school.

 The typical estate street during Diwali in this part of India. These are apartments by the way, not shops or malls.

 Fire works on the street

Above:  Fireworks from our balcony... and no, this is not the star that the wise men saw.

    Photo taken from our front balcony
 Above: Our flat, 2nd floor, just above the leaves of the tree.
The house Neighbouring ours
 Another residential street

 Demon chasing fire crackers.

1 comment:

  1. Seems like it was alot of fun and interesting too