happiness travel

Festival Of Lights

I must have started this post at least four times, as evidenced by the drafts sitting in my dashboard – each time I started writing about something else with pictures to match. The good news is, I now have posts ready for the future – sort of. I didn’t get around to posting on Sunday as I was out having a great time at the #NokiaAppTasting Indiblogger  meet! I’ll write about it in my next post.
But in the meantime, right at this moment, we’re celebrating Diwali – the Festival of Lights in India and there’s much revelry everywhere. There’s fireworks, sweets, new clothes and a lot of neighborly love to commemorate this day. So let me begin with the story of Diwali (I wrote about it in a Diwali post last year – bu there’s a quick recap)
Diwali or Deepavali popularly known as the “festival of lights,” is a five day festival which starts on Dhanteras and ends on Bhai Dooj. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of nirvana by Lord Mahavira.

The name “Diwali” or “Deepavali” translates into “row of lamps”. Small clay lamps filled with oil are lit to signify the triumph of good over evil. Homes are cleaned, and rows of lamps are lit through the night to welcome the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Firecrackers drive away evil spirits. Diwali, also means new clothes, sweets and celebrating with family and friends. 

According to Hindu Mythology, Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama, with Sita and Lakshmana from their 14-year exile, after vanquishing the demon Ravana.  The people of Ayodhya rejoiced at the return of their king and illuminated their kingdom with earthen  lamps and celebrated with fireworks.


Day 1: The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year.

Day 2: is Naraka Chaturdasi, marks the vanquishing of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama.

Day 3: Amavasya, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the Bali, and banished him to Patala .(the core of the earth)

Day 4: It is on the fourth day of Diwali, Kartika Shudda Padyami, that Bali went to patala and took the reins of his new kingdom in there.

Day 5: This day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), where sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

The story of Diwali and how it is celebrated varies from region to region, but the essence is the same – to rejoice the triumph of good over evil – and of course, have a good time. It is a significant time for new film releases!

In South India, Tamil Nadu, the tradition is to wake up very early in the morning, long before sunrise. An oil massage is followed by a wonderful hot bath. Prayers together with the family, distribution of new clothes, and sweets. In some houses, firecrackers follow. Then begins the ritual of visiting family and friends and generally having a great time.
I love everything except the fireworks. I don’t really fancy turning good money into ash, and also, the fireworks come from a place called Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu where they employ child labor to make them. There’s a strong drive to abolish it, yet, you know how these things take time. For my part, I just won’t buy them.

Instead, since my neighbors are out of town celebrating elsewhere, I have made sweets and I’ve gathered a few things (clothes, utensils, bed linen etc.) and will be taking a walk later today to distribute them to those who’ve made the street their home. There is also a big group of people who work at a construction nearby and I plan to take them something too. I am also celebrating, by organizing lunch for the 100 or so girls at our local girls’ orphanage.

Full heart = Festival happiness, right? Yes!

So here we go – some photos from my visit to the market yesterday. Oh, but it was packed. When I say packed, I mean I have to literally squeeze into the crowd and move ahead. There are shops everywhere, on the street selling all kinds of stuff, but predominantly lamps at this time.  Here, take a look. 🙂 And tell me which one is your favorite! (Click to enlarge photos).
This is a road side shop on the sidewalk, sharing space in the parking lot.
 These lamp sellers have a lot of earthenware lamps that they offer to color on the spot, in the color of your choice.
 They are great negotiators. The variety is mindboggling!
 I love it that everyone does great business!

 Love these – the blue ones are so nice and bright! Some are just lamps, others have a deity in the middle
 
 What is a festival without sweets?
 Jewelry I love – oh, they’re cheap, pretty and great to wear.
 This is a sight that never ceases to amaze me. In the little lanes in the market, there are these expert henna designers – and almost every day, one can see at least ten of these guys making the design on eager hands. They’re very good and they offer an album of designs to choose from. It takes them a couple of hours and the result is just stunning. As you can see. I always promise myself I’ll get one done on my hands…but as with everything in our own backyard…it is a fantasy right now!
 
 And now – don’t judge me – but our local economy thrives thanks to the street shops. Mostly good stuff. Even these can be bought off the street. Slips, shorts, briefs, inner wear. Hmm. Not to miss the padded ones.
 

The fun part of shopping in our area is the friendly vendors. I like how they’re always in a good mood. They urge you to see and tell you not to worry about not buying. 🙂 And they always make sure that the customer is happy.

Now, vamonos to Unknown Mami ‘s place, who makes it possible for us to travel the world from her place. She’s the lovely one who hosts this link up!

Happy Diwali
Happy week ahead!
P.S.: Have you entered the
giveaway for a free Tarot Card reading by Kathleen Helms of Mystic Tarot 
(value $ 57)?
You can enter every day until November 16, 2012 for extra entries. 
Enter now!
 

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Cheers!

Vidya

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Harleena Singh
    November 13, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Happy Diwali to you and yours Vidya!

    I was looking forward to pictures from you because I knew you would have some wonderful ones lined up for the day.

    Not to miss the sweets and eats we are offered on this day, isn’t it? My Dad is around here too for a few days to be with us, so you can well imagine my state.

    Thanks for sharing and have a nice time as well 🙂

  • Reply
    Rajesh
    November 13, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Wonderful write-up on the Deepavali.

    Wish you Happy and Prosperous Deepavali.

  • Reply
    Vishnu
    November 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    happy Deepavali Vidya!

    Love the pics and the explanation!

    The festival of lights symbolizes light in the world and the shining of goodness over evil. But it’s also a reminder of how we should continue to seek the light and clarity within ourselves 🙂

  • Reply
    joanne
    November 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    yours is the 2nd post today that informed and educated me about the Festival of Diwali, so thanx for that….and the pics are so colorful and festive….

  • Reply
    Keetha Broyles
    November 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    So interesting to see little glimpses into your culture. The little lights sold on the street, I’ve never seen anything like that. And the henna hands? Well – – – what to say about those!?!

  • Reply
    Elle
    November 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    You have such a wonderful way of seeing the world Vidya. Loved your description of taking things to those who’ve ‘made the street their home’. And the festival of lights is fabulous as seen through your pics.

    Thanks for these oh so wonderful posts about your culture, I find it fascinating.

    Love Elle
    xoxo

  • Reply
    Terri Sonoda
    November 14, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Hi Vidya! I think I would absolutely love this festival. A feast for the eyes indeed! And those sweets look pretty darned good too. Thanks for sharing your moments with us. Your culture is rich and beautiful, and you are amazing. XOXOs!

  • Reply
    Betsy / Zen Mama
    November 14, 2012 at 5:05 am

    Because of my computer dying, I missed this on Sunday. Beautiful as usual. I’ve always wondering about your festival of lights! Thanks for such great insight!

  • Reply
    Galen Pearl
    November 14, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Once again you have captivated me and mesmerized me with your cultural/photographic tours. What wonderful symbolism and fun, too! I can tell that you deeply value the richness of your home. Isn’t it wonderful to so love where you live? My home does not have the cultural cornucopia of sights and smells and sounds and tastes and spiritual wealth, but I love it just the same. It’s home and it feeds my spirit. Meanwhile, I always enjoy visiting yours!

  • Reply
    Anamika | madcookingfusions
    November 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Lovely write up Diya, thanks for sharing it 🙂

  • Reply
    Jodi @ Heal Now
    November 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    so kind of you to be donating to the people on the streets. And I love your boycot of fireworks. You are indeed an angel. Love to you! Happy Diwali!

  • Reply
    Lori Gosselin
    November 14, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Hi VIdz! Happy Diwali!You really bring us there, those who’ve never been. It must be wonderful to be there, wandering (squeezing) through the market, enjoying the lights at night!
    Thanks for sharing this!
    Lori

  • Reply
    Unknown Mami
    November 17, 2012 at 2:34 am

    I love the earthenware lamps the most.

  • Reply
    Zephyr
    November 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Festival of lamps it indeed is what with all those lovely earthenware ones painted so gaily. For me it is only the light and the lamps 🙂

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