Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Diwali !

This has to be one of the most celebration-filled weeks in India. The Diwali week has already started and everyone is in a festive mood .

There are quite a few legends attached to the festival of Diwali. It is the homecoming of Lord Rama, prince of Ayodhya and considered a reincarnation of the God Vishnu, after an exile of 14 years. It is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil . It is also a welcoming of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, prosperity and good fortune. Three very good reasons to make it a favourite among young and old.

Today, the homecoming aspect was very much on top of my mind as I went shopping for diyas with my daughter. It was a bit late to be doing this but she had been away for some days on a school trip so I kept putting it off till she got back. Diyas are little clay lamps that are filled with oil and are lit at night all during the Diwali week. They are as symbolic of Diwali, the festival of lights, as the Christmas tree is symbolic of Christmas in western countries. In the days before apartment-living, they were placed all around the home so that at night when they are all lit up, the effect is truly magical!
In these modern times, electric lights intrude upon the cosy glow of the diya but can't quit dim the magic.

I broke away from tradition this year as I didn't want to have a lit diya toppling over into the apartment below us . The Fire Brigade in Mumbai is overworked as it is without my adding to their problems! So, this year, I substituted the flame in the diya with fiery-bright yellow and orange marigolds. I've placed these little marigold diyas all around my tiny balcony in my apartment and on a few ledges in the rooms.
A pity you cant see them at night but they're really flamboyant during the day. Maybe some day they'll have fluorescent marigolds!

Outside, however, all the trees along the roads are strung up with tiny little lights . Isnt it amazing how a few little lights can change the entire night landscape? 'Magical' is the word that keeps coming back to my mind every time.

At night, every little shop by the roadside is filled with all kinds of lanterns of every material and design, hoping to entice even the most disinterested shopper to forget the R word for the moment and splurge on a gorgeous bit of light and all the hope that it signifies.

Gorging on sweets, visiting friends, decorating homes .... now what have I left out? Fireworks!But, of course! Diwali without fireworks is unthinkable for just about everyone I know.

Sparklers and rockets are old-fashioned now. Instead, each year there seems to be some new fireworks with fancy names. It was the Telephone (a cracker which zips up and down a wire) a few years ago and then there was the Butterfly( a cute little thing which actually flutters up off the ground before coming back to rest again in a flash of lights) ... I wonder what's new this year? I hope its not anything noisy!

And so my friends, have a wonderful Diwali ! Enjoy yourselves, keep safe, think positive, dream big, and in the spirit of Diwali, get in touch with an old friend whom you haven't spoken to for a long time.


  1. Happy Diwali, Sunita! Hope you have a fabulous time and thanks so much for posting about it. I almost felt as if I was there with you (except that the temperature is plummeting here in London).
    With best wishes for happiness, peace and prosperity, Victoria

  2. Your pictures capture the beauty and excitement of the festival. It must look pretty with all of the lanterns, diya, and strings of lights. I also had a soundtrack in my head for the last two photos, that included lots of exclamation points (POP!!).
    I love traditional celebrations that involve visiting, food and excitement.

  3. Thank you and a happy Diwali to you too, Victoria. I can just imagine how all these lights and fireworks would have warmed up London now. I'm sure you must be getting to see quite a bit of the Diwali spirit there too with the Indian community celebrating it with so much fervour.

  4. Northern Shade, if you love all those things then you're made for Diwali! Are you sure you dont have any Indian blood in you? ;D
    Oh, its just gorgeous! My words are so inadequate to describe the scene around me. Homes all lit up, children zipping around and playing with the added joy that they're having their Diwali vacations, homes all done up with flowers, people getting together with friends and family, and the sweets!...OMG, the sweets are amazing! There is such an unending variety of them that every sweet tooth is well and truly catered to. No one really cares that it is primarily a Hindu festival... every one celebrates Diwali!
    And the hint of a winter cool is setting in to make things even nicer. Life is good!

  5. Northern Shade, I wish I could've heard that soundtrack of yours : )
    Except, our crackers dont go 'POP!' Its 'KA-BOOM!!!'
    You might want to add that to your soundtrack? ;D

  6. A very happy Diwaly to you Sunita.
    It sure is a great occasion to celebrate "good over evil". Your Mariegolds must look a treat on your balcony and windowsills. Thank you for your great post about this festival.

  7. Thanks for sharing Sunita. I saw Happy Diwali on my Yahoo homepage and I was wondering what it meant. Not five minutes later I saw your post. Thanks for explaining it so eloquently. Your idea to use marigolds is a great idea I'm sure they look awesome! Mmmmmmm sweets my favorite part of the holiday season, I'm supposed to be watching my figure hahahah!!

    Happy Diwali


  8. Thanks, Trud, and a very happy Diwali to you too. I hope it brings you peace, happiness, even more blooms and lots of visits from your grandkids ; )
    I was afraid that the crows would attack my marigold diyas but they seem to have got into the festive mood too!

  9. Happy Diwali, Muthulakshmi. I'm so glad you liked my marigold diyas : )
    It was nice to see the Tamil script appearing on my blog, it brings back a lot of memories of my college days.

  10. Eric, havent you heard... round is a shape too! So yes, I'd say all of us are very much in shape and can gorge on all those sweets without any guilt pangs. At least until I try to pull my jeans on. LOL!
    And a happy Diwali to you too, my friend. Peace, prosperity, happiness and loads of interesting new plants (... does that cover everything?)

  11. Marigolds in diyas!
    What a fantastic flamboyant, SAFE idea! Guess who is going to copy it for Karthigai Deepam when we decorate our exteriors with little lamps.
    Happy Diwali, Sunita.

  12. Thanks, Raji. And a happy Diwali to you and your family too.
    Glad you liked the marigold diyas... go ahead, and fill your home (or rather, the exteriors of your home) with them.
    I just thought of this later, but how would a scattering of tiny jasmine buds look (and smell) to fill up the empty spaces in the diya? Maybe you can try it out and let me know.

  13. Happy Diwali to you and your family Sunita. I've never heard of this celebration so thanks for sharing your festivities with us. :) And by the way I will let the Painted Ladies lingering in my garden know to head your way for plenty of colorful & nectar filled flowers. :)

  14. Thanks, Perennial Gardener, and a happy Diwali to you and your loved ones too. Maybe you could start celebrating Diwali next year. Its great fun and I think it has already crossed all the boundaries of religion and nation. Loads of sweets, great food, fun, and friends... it has all the makings of an universal celebration, right? As Trudi said, the triumph of good over evil is always a good thing to celebrate!
    BTW, thanks for passing on my message to the Ladies ; )

  15. Very nice to light up the night in celebration. Happy Diwali to you!

  16. Nice pics! We had a wonderful display of fireworks this deepavali in the sky and on ground. Nice idea with the marigold! A gardener's idea of deepavali. Beautiful! Hope you had a good one.

  17. Happy Diwali to you too, Tina. Can you imagine how it must have looked in the days before electricity?!

  18. Thanks, Chandramouli. Oh yes, I always thoroughly enjoy Diwali (or should I say Deepavali?) ... and every other festival for that matter. What can I say, I love celebrations !
    You're so right about the "gardener's idea.." LOL! I had not thought of it that way before.

  19. Yes, but it would never be as stunning as in person I am sure. Great we have electricity! I am thankful every day when I switch on a light and it works:)


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