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Diwali: India's Festival of Lights
Story by MagdaleneJewels Published on December 5, 2007 in This Handmade Life
Photos by MagdaleneJewels
Two years ago, I spent some time in India, learning about the culture and partaking in the Indian festival of lights, Diwali. Not knowing much about this special holiday, I soon learned plenty as we spent three nights lighting up the neighborhood.
Diwali lasts for five continuous days, with fireworks going off 24/7. (Yes, even at 4am!) The Festival of Lights began centuries ago, with people praying to the many different gods worshipped throughout India. In South India, which is where I stayed, Lord Vishnu is honored. The people pray to Vishnu, asking him to bless them and grant them wealth and luck throughout the year. Diwali celebrates the forces of good over evil and light over darkness. It is also celebrated during this time of the harvest, with people also praying to the gods to grant them a full and wonderful bounty. \
Being that Diwali is a Hindu custom, my friend’s mother took me to a neighbor's home who is Hindu. Shoes are always removed when entering anyone's home out of respect. With lights dimmed, they had a small altar set up with Lord Ginesha in the center and candles all around, called diyas. Although I am Catholic, we all knelt together while they said a small prayer in Hindu. I was then blessed with the ashes of the gods. Red clay was placed on my forehead with a small yellow dot in the center. When it was time to leave, I was presented with a coconut, which is an honor wishing me luck and thanking me for joining them in their home. After having the blessing of the gods, I set about to join the others to begin our fireworks display. Everyone was very careful lighting one firecracker at a time. Not me! I showed them how we light them in America: all at once. As I began lighting each pack of fireworks, they thought I was going to set myself on fire!
The best part was the small circular fireworks that spin and fly in all directions. The funniest part was when I lit a few and began spinning and took off haphazardly. Our friend Albert quickly jumped behind his little car, only to have the saucer fly over his car and just miss him. Needless to say, after that they hid the really large fireworks from me!
Diwali truly was a celebration that we all talk about often, still laughing about my lighting everything at once. It was an experience I was truly lucky to share. Enjoy the pictures, I hope you can share the feeling of the Diwali spirit as you look at them..
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