My good friend Nammie tried to explain the meaning of Diwali to me (she also gave me my first Diwali gift ever) and what I came away with was this. It is a time of great joy and giving. Lights and oil lamps are lit during the five days of celebration welcoming the Goddess Lakshimi into homes in hopes of blessings of prosperity leading up to the Diwali which is in celebration of the return of King Rama the rightful king to Ayodhya. During this time there are beautiful lamps,gift giving, poojas done and of course fireworks! We experienced Diwali in Malaysia, but it was no where near this level of celebration of course as it is here in India. We have joined in quite happily with our neighbors in having our house decorated by professional "Diwali light guys" who came to the house and put up "Christmas lights" on the outside of the house. It has been fun to walk around our neighborhood and enjoy the homes lighted up....it feels like Christmas to us. We will pay the guys 15 rupees for each strand of lights they put up times the number of days we leave the lights up. I hope we are able to settle up before we leave for our trip tomorrow! When you hire Hindus on your staff, it is common understanding that if they are with you during Diwali, you will give them a Diwali bonus. For most the bonus is a month's salary. We additionally gave our staff a big box of fireworks along with candy,(lots of candy) dried fruits and nuts and each a personal gift. You can imagine the excitement in our home that afternoon when we passed out the bonuses and gifts! What was really sweet was our good friend Elizabeth coming over and giving each of my staff gifts as well to thank them for their help when she and her children visit. They were touched by her kindness as were we. On Tuesday (it is Wednesday now) the actual holiday of Diwali was celebrated with an "official" day off, woo hoo! We spent most our day on the roof enjoying the beautiful weather, good music and of course our jacuzzi. The doorbell rang quite a few times today and we received visitors who came bearing gifts! I wish now I would have gotten pics of the families who stopped by. They were all dressed in traditional festive wear and it was so wonderful to be included in their special day. I am thinking now that I should have also taken pics of the vendors on the streets with all the various paper lamps etc...I will do that today as I believe the this celebration will last (I think) this whole week. The sweetest visitors we had today was when our cook Gayathri stopped by with her family to give us a gift. We feel so blessed to have such lovely people in our lives.
The best part of Diwali so far for Bruce has been the lighting of the fireworks. We lit some on Monday night and again on Tuesday night. Can I just admit I am terrified that there will be a serious malfunction? Especially when the directions basically read "light and run"........well sort of. I wish I were a better photographer and had gotten better shots because the fireworks that have been lighting up the sky have been truly cool.
Here are a couple of pics of the box that we purchased with the things that go boom! As well as a few pics of the fireworks and the lights on the house.
All of the excitement was "last night". It is now 5:13 a.m. and after counting down many, many sleeps...John's parents are now on their way from their airport to visit us! We hope they will enjoy their stay and leave with a better understanding of our lives here in India. Bruce is beyond excited about their visit. The pic below was taken right after he fell asleep right after he said "two more sleeps". Just think when he wakes up this morning his Grandma and Grandpa will be here. Happy Diwali y'all! It sure has been a happy one for us so far!
p.s. If you would like a better "description of Diwali" I found this info on the internet that closely tells the tale of how it was described to me. Enjoy:)
Victory of Rama - The Legend
The stories and glorious deeds of Lord Rama are renowned throughout the world. Here we will discuss the story of victory of Rama over Ravana, the demon. According to Ramayana, Diwali celebrates the return of Ram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the eldest son of King Dasharath of Ayodhya, from his 14-year exile with Sita and Lakshman after killing the Ravan, a demon king. The people of Ayodhya lighted the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and fireworks to celebrate the return of their king. The legend of Rama says, Lord Rama was the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was a great warrior King. His father Dashratha, the King of Ayodhya sent him to exile along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman, on his wife's (Kaikeyi) insistence. After 14 years of exile, in which he puts an end to the demon Ravana, Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom Ayodhya.
Ravana caged Sita and enforced her to marry him but she didn't agree to this. Lord Rama with the help of Hanuman, Sugreev and Bali and their "Vaanar Sena" attacked Lanka and after a severe battle, got Sitaji released from the control of Ravana. After this victory of Good over Evil, Rama returned to Ayodhya.
According to the legend, people welcomed them by lighting rows of clay lamps in Ayodhya. Great celebrations were held and everyone was happy for Rama to be the King of Ayodhya. This celebration took place on the night of the new moon of Ashwin (October-November). From that day onwards; people celebrate this occasion as the most delightful festival of India and of the Hindu Religion. Even today Diwali celebration means -happiness, fireworks and sweets.
Thus the festival of diwali is an honour of Rama's victory over Ravana.