Happy Diwali

Since about Tuesday people have been wishing each other Happy Diwali. For a week or more the shops have been selling lights and candles. There has been a festive mood in the air. And every night fireworks have been going off in the neighborhood.

Diwali is India’s Festival of Lights, a time when people come together to celebrate good conquering evil and light conquering dark. It is a celebration of new beginnings which coincides with the beginning of the Hindu new year. It’s the biggest event on the Hindu calendar and has been described as “their Christmas”.

The exact dates of Diwali change each year and takes place over five days. It’s usually sometime between mid-October and mid-November, the exact dates based on the Hindu lunar calendar.

In addition to fireworks, candles and lights, there are Rangoon artworks on floors. We saw these on the floor of the hotel in Aurangabad, on the ground in front of the restaurant, Indiana, where we ate twice in Aurangabad, and when we returned to the apartment there were two Oms on the threshold. They are made with colored rice, sand, flour and petals. And everywhere there are marigolds. They adorn cars, motorcycles, doorways and are for sale in big heaps on the side of the road.

As our tour manager said many time during the first part of our trip, India is a country of myths and legends. Different parts of India celebrate different legends during Diwali. In the north the festival celebrates the return of Rama and his wife Sita from their 14 year exile. Elsewhere many link Parvati, the goddess of love and devotion to Diwali. For others, the Festival honors the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, allowing the lamps to help her find her way to homes and businesses so she can bring them wealth on this holiday that coincides with the start of the business year. And everywhere it includes lighting fireworks!

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