Diwali is a holiday celebrated in the latter part of October by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. Called the “Festival of Lights”, it signifies the victory of good over evil in every human being. The story goes that Lord Ram had been in exile in the forest for 14 years. He was able to finally defeat evil Ravana, and was welcomed home by his people with rows of lit oil lamps.
Today, people celebrate Diwali with many pujas (prayers) at differing times throughout the festival, colored lights akin to the US Christmas, lit oil lamps (called diyas) and, of course, the fireworks.
Words cannot do justice to what we witnessed last night. I can tell you that it was loud, I can tell you that it was colorful, I can tell you that I had a great time and was scared for our lives all at once, but I can never even begin to describe it all the way it deserves.
The fireworks were non-stop, and EVERYONE had them. Many were the kind that would be illegal in the US: Professional fireworks that you’d see at the community park on the 4th of July, and loud blasters that would be more suitable for use in a rock quarry than on the street in front of our house. It seemed to me that each and every member of every family, old, young, man, woman, were all out there taking turns lighting them.
Though impatient celebrators were lighting fireworks throughout the day, the bulk of the noise began at around 6:30 when it got dark and ran on though the night. The noise was deafening. It sounded as if we were surrounded by bomb blasts and machine gun fire. Rockets were flying in all directions, fountains and noisemakers and firecrackers everywhere. You took your life in your hands just walking down the sidewalk.
The grass in the public garden down the road caught on fire early on. A bucket brigade managed to put it out, but it was iffy there for a few minutes.
Imagine the noise and light of the grand finale of a fireworks show. Now imagine that going on for 4 hours straight. That’s Diwali.
At one point a rocket fell from the sky and hit me in the hand. I managed to burn my thumb lighting a sparkler and our friend Rajesh managed to singe a good portion of his hand lighting something else. Addie and Ender were desperate to light the fireworks like all the other kids were being allowed to do, but I have to have a little control left in my life and didn’t allow it. IT was bad enough that they were lighting their own sparklers by the end using a candle, giving me fits in the process.
Unfortunately, Scott and Rajesh felt that it was wise to spend most of their money on noisemakers instead of pretty fountains, so we ended up with a bunch of very VERY loud fireworks that they were trying desperately to get rid of so it could just all be over. We also had a plethora of sparklers, so the kids spent a good deal of time devising a sparkler forest on the grass in order to use them up all at once. The small grass fire that ensued was easily put out with a bit of stomping.
The streets were covered with spent firework debris. Some of the neighborhood kids busied themselves collecting the big stuff and creating quite a nice bonfire with it all. Of course, a few dud fireworks got thrown into it now and then, so it really wasn’t too safe to get too close to it. Guess we’d better pass on the s’mores.
I wish I could have taken a video, or at the very least recorded the sound of it all. Let it just suffice to say that it was probably the most incredible celebration that I have witnessed, and we are certainly fortunate to have been a part of it.