Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Sound of Diwali

It thundered all around me. As I sat on my terrace watching fireworks light up the sky, more omnipresent was the sound of what could be compared to cannon and musket fire up close and in your ears in the street. This is just a part of Diwali, the celebration of lights.

My terrace was filled with little clay saucers (referred to as lanterns) filled with oil that kept lit the cotton strips.  It is part of the tradition, unlike some festivals that occur in only parts of the country, Diwali occurs countrywide.  Some houses will also hang strips of electric lights outside.

Diwali lasts three days; the Indians celebrate it with fireworks; but extend their traditions to also worship one of their 3 million deity for ten, and leave the lanterns lit for thirty.

Tonight reminds me a bit of July 4th during the 1960s in the Brooklyn, NY of my childhood, when we'd all fill the streets and our parents would set up bottle rockets, fire crackers, Roman candles while we all lit sparklers.  As I look off the balcony into the street, it is alive with fireworks.

Getting a few bottles chilled
My gang and I will reconvene at my place shortly, and drink Rum and watch the show in the distance.

According to Wikipedia, Deepavali (also spelled Devali in certain regions) or Diwali,[note 1] popularly known as the "festival of lights," is primarily a five day Hindu festival[1] which starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin and ends on Bhaubeej, celebrated on second lunar day of Shukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls between mid-October and mid-November. Diwali is an official holiday in India,[2] Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.

For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BCE.[3][4] Arya Samajists, celebrate this day as Death Anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati. They also celebrate this day as Shardiya Nav-Shasyeshti.

The name "Diwali" or "Divali" is a contraction of "Deepavali" (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvalī), which translates into "row of lamps".[5] Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (dīpa in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.[6] These lamps are kept on during the night and one's house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome.[7] Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits.[8][9][10] During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival is called the Naraka Chaturdasi. Amavasya, the third day of Diwali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day of Diwali is known as Kartika Shudda Padyami. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

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