Monday, November 8, 2010

Diwali, Festival of Fire Crackers

Landing back in India the night before Diwali, I was greeted at the apartment with a marigold decorated entryway, complements of our cook. Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, is a holiday, based on the magnitude, that I've described to others as "Indian Christmas"; however, after what I experienced Friday night, it felt a little more like the Fourth of July.

Knowing that it's an important holiday to Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains, we weren't sure what would be open during the day, expecting very little to be based on our experience with other holidays here. Surprisingly, markets and shops remain open until the late afternoon or early evening so Lindsay was able to take our visiting friend Sarah to two of her favorite haunts, Dilli Haat and Khan Market.

Lindsay had called places to see if they were open for dinner, and surprisingly, a couple said they were. Of course, all the places that she had called apparently misunderstood her question and ended up being closed when we tried to go. Since, as we kind of expected initially, the country had basically closed down (much like Christmas Day in the states), we headed back to the apartment where there a number of people lighting off fire crackers at the playground (no kids were on the playground). The fire cracker people had basically taken over the huge lawn and a number of wallflowers, us included, surrounded the perimeter. In addition to the lawn by the playground, there were a number of people doing the same thing on the soccer field, which is located a few dozen yards away.

It can't be confirmed or denied, but it's entirely possible there were some crackers fired in the general direction of the soccer field from the playground lawn and vice versa. No one intended harm; however, it was difficult to ascertain with the amount of carnage witnessed on those fields. We witnessed not fewer than six firecrackers hit the apartment buildings, including two or three that found their ways onto people's balconies before exploding. Thankfully, our apartment faces the other direction.
At least safety was somewhat of a concern
After a while the novelty wore off, at least for the visiting expats and we made our way back inside. That same novelty didn't wear off for a number of hours for the locals celebrating. As it was my first full day back in the country, my old enemy jet lag reared its ugly head. Waking up feeling fully rested at what I thought was 6:00am, the celebration was still going. I thought to myself, "Man, they're serious about these fire crackers." Somewhat confused, I checked my blackberry, learning the actual time was 1:30am. Maybe my body hadn't quite adjusted yet with my two hours of sleep but based on what I could hear from bed, Diwali was still going strong.
Cleaning up the playground the day after Diwali

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