Skip to content
19 November 2013 / leggypeggy

Celebrating Diwali—the Festival of Light

Camp cooking

Cooking for Diwali by torch and candlelight

We’ve just seen this month’s full moon and it dawned on me that I hadn’t yet written about our Diwali celebrations, which happened two weeks ago on the new moon.

Popularly known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali (formally known as Deepavali) is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains throughout the world. Many countries declare Diwali an official holiday.

It is India’s most important holiday and, in past years, we’ve seen it widely celebrated in places such as Singapore and Burma (Myanmar).

In most parts of India, Diwali coincides with the end of the harvest season. As winter approaches here, it is a time for farmers to give thanks for a good crop and pray for a bountiful year ahead. Some businesses start their new financial year on the first day of Diwali celebrations.

For the most part, people celebrate Diwali with family. They pray to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, light, prosperity and wisdom, and to Lord Ganesha, the ‘remover of obstacles’ and ‘lord of beginnings’.

Before we even arrived in India, Deepti wrote to say our little overland ‘family’ would be marking the occasion with a simple celebration in a campground, but with decorations, fireworks and new outfits.

Renae was especially thrilled by the mention of fireworks. Quite a few years back, the place where we live in Australia banned ‘cracker night’, meaning no fireworks in the backyard.

Of course, for us to prepare for the festivities in style called for a couple of special shopping expeditions, including one to stock the van.

Whether you are rich or poor, two days before Diwali is everyone’s chance to go on a shopping spree. The shopping is compulsory. There’s even a name—Dhanteras—for the day. Silver and gold are the most popular purchases on Dhanteras, but we stuck to the 3Fs—food, fireworks and fashion.

My Diwali outfit failed the 3Fs policy I have for clothes. It did Fit (sort of), but it did not Flatter and it certainly was not Fashionable. Renae’s get-up was better, but Gary, Poor John and Anand did quite well. Gary even struck a pose. Deepti ‘cheated’ and wore an outfit she already owned.

Powdered chalk

Powdered chalk for Diwali decorations

Diwali designs

Deepti finishes putting simple chalk designs around the campfire

We saved some of our Diwali requirements so we could make purchases on the roadside and the local market near our campground. We bought a woven bamboo decoration, an array of powdered chalk for making patterns on the ground, small clay candle dishes, a selection of fresh veggies and a couple of live chooks (Aussie slang for chickens). This would be the first of many times that we would buy our protein live—the best answer when refrigeration is limited or non-existent.

After a couple of safari drives in Pench National Park, it was back to camp for a simple and memorable Diwali event.

If you want to know more about Diwali, check out this interesting and informative blog post I found.

15 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. lmo58 / Nov 19 2013 6:16 pm

    Oh Peggy, I can’t see the phot of you in which you claim to be wearing an outfit that didn’t flatter and wasn’t fashionable. How do you know? It seems to me, and I’m by no means ann expert, that you’re not sufficiently objective to make such an assessment. Only my opinion of course. I was pleased to see the post on Divali, the only one of your activities thus far with which I can claim some familiarity. My physiotherapist is Indian Australian and tells me what they get up to each year. I’m glad that you had such fun but still waiting for a photo of yourself!!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Nov 19 2013 8:37 pm

      You won’t be seeing a photo of me in that get-up anytime soon—probably never. But we had a wonderful time at our little Diwali, plus it was dark so nobody could see my outfit. 🙂

      Like

  2. kayakcameraman / Nov 19 2013 7:01 pm

    Wow …you are having so many great experiences. I’m always looking forward to seeing where you are going next. Keep on enjoying! Thanks.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Nov 19 2013 8:38 pm

      I look forward to your posts too. Always such wonderful views.

      Like

  3. lmo58 / Nov 19 2013 10:48 pm

    Given that it was dark that’s all the more reason for posting a photo. After all, we’re not always the best judges of what we look like; says she who never allows anyone, anytime, anywhere to take a photo of herself! But that’s me. It’s different for you because, unlike me, you look good in photos. More seriously, still absolutely delighted that you and John are having such a great time. Please say ‘hello’ to him for me.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Nov 20 2013 5:01 am

      No amount of arm-twisting is going to get me to post that photo. 🙂 And Poor John says hi in return.

      Like

  4. lmo58 / Nov 20 2013 8:18 pm

    Hi again,
    I’ve sent you an email.

    Like

  5. Nicholas Andriani / Nov 24 2013 7:36 am

    This is too damn cool. Whimsy and mystical. Truly inspirational.

    Like

  6. Derrick / Nov 25 2013 7:43 pm

    When I posted about carrying live food on my trip, it caused quite a stir, even more so when I posted a video of it, the market shopping was great, they dont often get white people shopping in them, and there is just no point in haggling, things are just so cheap anyway, I fed us all for less than a quid (okay it was just veggies and fruit I bought)

    I wasnt there for Diwali though, but we have a similar thing over here in the UK, lots of cars and fireworks (it conincides with our bonfire night)

    After I left the trip (I should say the trip finished) I went to Kerala and ended up in a celebration there, I was even in a parade, it was interesting with the various Gods and temples being represented

    Every hotel, hostel sponsors something, all hoping it will bring them god luch in the coming year
    Kerala is a great place to just relax and meet up with other back packers

    They all seem to be in search of something mystical or as I was told (trying to find themselves’ (I never understood that)

    Your blog has been a lot shorter than mine was, but I am hoping you saw everything and even more than I did on mine (you at least saw a tiger)

    I dont know where you are now or how things have progressed, but I feel sure you have vhad a great time

    I hope others do this trip and it doesnt just become a trip for Indians, its a great trip and very unlike any other trip I have been on

    Looking forward to any other entries you post (even a summing up would be interesting)

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Nov 30 2013 5:01 pm

      I’m just getting going on the blog. Internet connections have been so bad that it’s been impossible to post. That said, we have been is some pretty remote places.

      Like

  7. Sy S. / Nov 26 2013 1:26 am

    Derrick an others,
    An e-mail from Peggy, Nov. 17, 2013;
    In part – ….Off to the Taj Mahal in the morning. Off to bed now. 🙂
    Cheers
    Peggy

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Nov 30 2013 5:00 pm

      Sorry to be so quiet for so long. Internet has been abysmal. We’ve been having a wonderful time. More posts coming soon.

      Like

Trackbacks

  1. Two weddings and a funeral | Where to next?
  2. Happy Diwali—festival of lights | Where to next?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: