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1 November 2016 / leggypeggy

Happy Diwali—festival of lights

Diwali decorations

A service station all dressed up for Diwali

Decorating for Diwali

Beginnings of an elaborate rangoli

Note: I tried to post this yesterday, but couldn’t get a stable connection. Diwali officially started Sunday.

As of yesterday, India is in the midst of celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights and one of the happiest and most important holidays of the year for Hindus all over the world.

Wherever Diwali is celebrated, you will see millions of candles, lamps and party lights twinkling from rooftops and verandahs, outside doors and windows, at temples and businesses, through whole communities—even trucks and tractors get the works.

Flower seller

Dad buys flowers for his daughter’s hair

Accompanying the lights are floral displays, colourful decorations, rangoli (chalk designs), new clothes, copious amounts of food, fireworks and blaring music.

Spiritually Diwali signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. It is a time to worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

Other religious significance attached to Diwali varies regionally within India, depending the local school of Hindu philosophy, legends and beliefs. Most use the day to honour the return of Lord Rama, his wife, Sita, and his brother, Lakshmana, from 14 years of exile after Lord Rama defeated Ravana. Diyas (lamps and candles) help to illuminate their path home.

I read today that for the first time ever, an American president, Barack Obama, honoured Diwali by lighting diyas in the White House.

This is the second Diwali we’ve enjoyed in India in the last three years. The first we spent camping just outside Pench National Park. That year, Deepti convinced us to buy party clothes at a shop called Bombay Dyeing in Jabalpur.

The poor salesman was completely flummoxed trying to find anything that would fit across my bosom. As a result, I spent rather too much time in the dressing room calling out for someone to come help me get out of yet another ‘straitjacket’.

At last, he came up with an almost florescent, multi-coloured frock with bright skin-tight blue leggings and a red and blue chiffon scarf—a fetching combination that would do well as a Halloween costume. Just add a mask!

Large rangoli

My Diwali dress had more colours than this rangoli

I won’t be showing any pictures of that get-up unless Poor John wants to slip an image to fellow blogger, Brian Lageose, who writes hilarious dialogues to accompany often disturbing vintage photos.

Luckily, this Diwali was different. We had an epic 300-plus kilometre drive from the backwaters of Bhigwan (east of Pune) to Tarkarli Beach on the Indian Ocean.

This time we wore everyday clothes, and Anand drove 13 hours, with few breaks, through beautiful rolling countryside and then down a section of the Western Ghats (mountains).

All the cities, towns and villages were festooned with Diwali lights and decorations.

We were surprised to discover that Diwali doesn’t necessarily mean a day off for many people. Roadworks were underway in many places, and most businesses and shops were open. Poor John could even have had a haircut.

The celebrations for Diwali actually carry on over four or five days. Decorations are still up and the festive spirit remains.

By the way, Diwali goes by other names, especially Deepavali. It is observed worldwide by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.

Diwali decorations

Decorations for trucks

If you’ve never seen this holiday celebrated, maybe you should keep a lookout in your own country. In addition to India and Nepal, the main countries observing Diwali/Deepavali are Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Guyana, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bhutan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Mauritius.

Oh, and this holiday is not without its tragedies. The news this morning said there were 173 major fires reported yesterday, all caused by fireworks.

Firecracker stall

Firecrackers for sale in Malvan, near Tarkarli Beach

Two days ago, a major blaze swept through the firecracker market in Aurangabad (the city we had just left). More than 150 cracker stalls were destroyed, along with 40 vehicles (mostly two-wheelers). Thank goodness, only four people were injured.

But going back to that tight-fitting, eye-smiting Diwali dress I wore in 2013. It reminded me of the low-cut black velvet dress I made for a university dance in the late 1960s. It was the longest night of my life. I’ll get around to that story one day.

P.S. It’s been almost impossible to capture pics of the Diwali lights at night. I don’t have a tripod with me and the van travels too fast to get sharp pics. So most of the pics here are of the colourful and often intricate chalk decorations called rangoli.

Round rangoli

Round rangoli

Woman in doorway

Simple Diwali decorations

62 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. weezaj / Nov 1 2016 2:44 pm

    Ooooh I love this post AND I love *that* story about the velvet dress!

    👋

    Louise Scrivener *Chinese Ducks Design* 0407 477 440

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2016 8:43 pm

      I think I still have that dress stashed away in a cupboard. Must look for it when I get home. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rashminotes / Nov 1 2016 3:42 pm

    Belated Happy Diwali to you Peggy! Great to have you in India during one of our biggest and most celebrated festivals:)

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2016 8:43 pm

      Thanks so much. We love having Diwali in India.

      Like

  3. quirkywanderer / Nov 1 2016 3:45 pm

    So nice to see your fantastic documentation on one of our most loved festivals! 🙂 so glad you like it and love how you have captured the fervour.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2016 8:44 pm

      Thanks so much. We have loved our two Diwalis here. Such special memories.

      Like

  4. BoomingOn / Nov 1 2016 4:48 pm

    How pretty. And I’d love to see that previous outfit!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Infinte Thirteen / Nov 1 2016 4:52 pm

    Belated Happy Diwali!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Santoshsadventure / Nov 1 2016 6:29 pm

    Nice pics…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Nov 1 2016 7:10 pm

    Diwali is such a beautiful, happy festival that’s getting much exposure in the U.S in the last 10 years probably because so many Americans are traveling to India and bringing back stories and photos of the celebration. Thanks for your addition to this joyous tradition.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2016 8:46 pm

      I think I’ve wished 1000 people Happy Diwali. Such a good feeling. I’m glad the holiday is finally getting some decent exposure in the USA.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Curious to the Max / Nov 2 2016 6:48 am

        went to a Diwali festival here in the USA – it was mainly teenagers throwing colored chalk at everyone! But fun none-the-less. Ever since I’ve wanted to see the REAL thing so thanks for the vicarious experience.!

        Liked by 3 people

      • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2016 10:34 pm

        So glad you could enjoy this one. Thanks for visiting.

        Like

  8. Ms Louise M Oliver / Nov 1 2016 7:10 pm

    Hi Peggy,
    Thank you for yet another entertaining and informative post. I’m with BoomingOn: I want to see that outfit too! Best wishes to you and Poor John. When you have time, and a good connection, could you try to do that other thing for me please? Many thanks as always.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2016 8:47 pm

      Thanks so much. Diwalia is a fantastic holiday, even without new clothes. 🙂 I promise to get other matter done soon. Supposed to have better connections from late tomorrow in Goa.

      Like

  9. beetleypete / Nov 1 2016 8:22 pm

    I well remember Diwali celebrations in West London, among the large Indian community there. Your photos illustrate all the care taken with the many and varied decorations.
    Now, like the others, I am waiting to see that velvet dress from the 1960s. We are all intrigued!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2016 8:48 pm

      We had another Diwali (the few days after) in Singapore a few years back. The decorations there were fabulous too. I’ll get around to that darned dress one of these days. Working up the courage. 🙂

      Like

  10. derrickjknight / Nov 1 2016 8:41 pm

    Excellent record; the best I’ve seen in UK was Leicester. I trust you will post a photo of your little black dress 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 1 2016 8:50 pm

      I’ll keep Leicester in mind if I’m ever in England for Diwali. I’ll see if I can find the black dress when I get home. I imagine it’s pretty tame these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. calmkate / Nov 1 2016 8:51 pm

    As I lived in India for years I have seen so much Diwali celebrations … often used to think the astronauts in outer space must see all those lights! Thanks

    Liked by 3 people

  12. kcsantoshphotography / Nov 1 2016 9:30 pm

    Happy diwali

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Priya@MasalaVegan / Nov 1 2016 9:31 pm

    Gorgeous pictures! I’m so envious, you got to spend Diwali in India. Definitely want to see the outfit 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2016 11:14 pm

      We loved being here for Diwali. I’ll work on sharing the outfit! 🙂

      Like

  14. onecreativefamily / Nov 1 2016 10:33 pm

    I enjoyed the information on the culture of India. I like learning about other places and their cultures,

    Liked by 3 people

  15. lorriedeck / Nov 2 2016 1:01 am

    What a wonderful holiday, full of light, love and happiness. We should all celebrate it.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. lexklein / Nov 2 2016 8:10 am

    You’ve teased us twice; we need to see both dresses now, I think. Great post on this sparkling Hindu holiday!

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2016 10:39 pm

      Be patient. Both dresses (if the black one still exists) are in Canberra. Hope in December.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Vicki / Nov 2 2016 9:39 am

    Such a colourful festival (and yes, Melbourne celebrates it too). I have some colourful images of the dancers on the stage at Federation Square from some years ago).

    I love the chalk decorations on the pavements and walls.

    (and I insist on seeing a a picture of that dress……actually both dresses) 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2016 10:41 pm

      Maybe we’ll have to try for a Diwali in Melbourne. As for the dresses, I promise to post one of the Diwali dress, but perhaps not with me in it. 🙂 No guarantees about the black number. It may no longer exist. But I will write the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. maureenrose7 / Nov 2 2016 1:06 pm

    Yes I really want to hear the story of the dress and see it hahaa! Great post Peggy! Everything looks so festive and pretty!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2016 10:42 pm

      Diwali is wonderfully festive. And I promise to write about the black dress. Not sure that I still have it though.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Curt Mekemson / Nov 2 2016 3:09 pm

    Thanks Peggy for the cultural insight. I confess, I started wondering about fires when you mentioned all of the candles. –Curt

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 2 2016 10:44 pm

      Fires were one of my first concerns. Injuries are a problem too. Geez!

      Like

  20. luckyjc007 / Nov 2 2016 4:06 pm

    I love the beautiful colors. Thank you for sharing..

    Liked by 3 people

  21. voulaah / Nov 2 2016 10:19 pm

    Beautiful all these colors, thank you so much for sharing Peggy
    kisses

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Brenda / Nov 2 2016 11:11 pm

    I love the idea of spreading Diwali worldwide. We can all use that light and color in our lives. I imagine President Obama had to wait until almost leaving office before stringing Diwali lights or he would have been outed as being a secret: a) Hindu; b) Buddhist; c) Jain d) Sikh; or e) all of the above.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. cruiseplannersctwv / Nov 9 2016 2:43 am

    Very enjoyable post. Very well said Brenda.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. babl / Dec 4 2016 8:22 am

    Reblogged this on Hello Creatives Times.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. babl / Dec 4 2016 8:22 am

    I plan to reblog your post in my blog https://hellocreativestimes.com. Since you have enabled reblogging on your post, I am assuming that you are allowing others to reblog this post. However, if you have any objection to reblogging your post, please let us know as soon as possible. Thank you.
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Rist / Jan 18 2017 9:28 pm

    Very nice celebrate diwali.

    Liked by 1 person

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