Diwali, the five-day “festival of lights” is the year’s largest Hindu festival. “Diwali” or “Divali” comes from deepavali, which means “row of lamps”. At night Hindus light small clay lamps filled with oil called diyas. The light symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Families keep their diyas burning and their front doors open throughout the night to lure in Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth of prosperity.
Burning diyas at night
Burnt-out diyas in the morning
At its core, Diwali is a religious holiday families celebrate in the home. But prolific pyrotechnics, Black Friday level marketing, partying in the streets get together to give this ancient religious tradition a new-India twist that reminded us of the 4th of July, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Halloween rolled into one mega holiday.
Diwali in Rajesthan
We were at the very excellent Yogi’s Guesthouse in Johdpur for the first night of Diwali. For the main event, we’d booked a wonderful family-run guesthouse, Explorer’s Nest, in Jaipur, one of the best and most atmospheric places to celebrate Diwali in Rajasthan.
Firecrackers, aka crackers, play a major role in the celebrations. And they come in all shapes, sizes, qualities, and levels of legality. Tradition holds that each explosion drives away evil spirits. We can’t speak to that, but they are successful at driving away neighborhood dogs. Unlike 4th of July celebrations in the States, in Jaipur there’s no big firework display organized by the city or a private firm. Locals take matters into their own hands and wage personal and steady warfare over the powers of evil for a steady week.
And in Rajesthan, they start ‘em young. It seems the rule is, the smaller a child, the bigger cracker you hand him.
Setting off rockets with the staff’s kids | Jodhpur, Rajesthan
Our Jaipur hosts were the unofficial MCs of their nieghborhood Diwali happenings. Each night kids flocked to their house for candy and crackers.
I like to think I did my civic duty in fortifying our communal arsenal.
Arvin Uncle handing out candy to neighborhood kids
My personal stash
Party on, Garth
While I got my American on, Natalie stuck to sparklers and worrying that one of the kids would catch on fire.
No one did, and overall I’d rate our first Diwali a success.