Celebrating Diwali

Two girls in search of Diwali.

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After only staying in Kerala for three days, we travelled north to reach Hampi. The trains took us over twenty hours including a malfunction of the engines but at last we made it. All in time to celebrate the ancient Hindu festival Diwali. Diwali is known as the festival of lights, it’s spread across five days celebrating new beginnings and the triumphs of good over evil.

One of the most popular stories told is the legend of Lord Rama rescuing his beautiful wife Sita from the clutches of the evil Ravanna. They celebrate the return of Lord Rama and Sita to their kingdom in North India.

We heard the celebrations before we saw them. One morning we were woken at 6am by loud bangs outside our window. We saw many fireworks, candles, colourful rangoli patterns and sweet outside people’s homes. Houses are decorated and cleaned, people buy new outfits to wear. After about 10pm once the children are in bed, the young men gather in groups and play cards placing bets. It’s the only time in the year when betting on the streets is legal. 

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We hung around with the family of our guesthouse who were outside letting off crackers (fireworks) in the street. We participated in the family’s puja (prayers) to Lakshmi and I was given a banana as a gift.

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Beautiful hand drawn rangoli patterns outside peoples homes.

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Dangerous fireworks?

There are no safety nets in India for fireworks. We saw little children lighting them and just stepping back to watch. We were sprayed a few times with burning ash and Fran had a Catherine Wheel chase her across the ground! We heard many stories of burnt hands and faces from fireworks exploding too quickly. Can you imagine this in England? Ha definitely not!

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Everyone looked beautiful in their outfits. These girls below followed Fran and I wanting us to take their photograph. 

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 Who celebrates Diwali?

Diwali coincides with the new moon of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. It is a national holiday held across India.  Jains celebrate the festival of lights and Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas. The further north you go the more elaborate the celebrations are. We heard Delhi is one of the best places to celebrate. 

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