Diwali in full
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was lucky enough to be here in Jaipur for Diwali, the festival of light. Diwali is a three day holiday. People clean and paint their houses, buy new clothes and stock up on sweets and fireworks.
The first thing I did for Diwali was to visit a slum school for a special lunch with the children. It was really great. We had pooris and vegetables. These are pooris. Apparently, pooris are for special occasions. They are easy to make in large batches.
Then on Diwali day I was invited for lamplighting, fireworks and sweets by the family I am staying with. Another family also invited me to witness their puja (where the family pray and make offerings at a shrine), dinner and fireworks.
The floors and entrances to the house are decorated with the most beautiful and elaborate drawings , mostly of footprints - they symbolise Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth. The idea is to lead her into your house. The house is then filled and surrounded by little lit candles and wicked lamps.
Neighbours and friends come around offering sweets, dried fruit and nuts. The sweets were kind of like a marzipan flavoured with nuts and coated in silver paper. I had almond, pistachio and cashew. I ate so many, total sugar overload.
Then of course, there were the fireworks. Catherine wheels, rockets, sparklers, bangers. Everywhere, absolutely everywhere. The city sounded like it was awash with artillery fire.
Fireworks are almost totally banned in Australia. They kill people, start fires, send animals beserk. They are the root of all evil apparently. So to just be randomly handed a fistful of them along with a lit match was quite an experience.
Safety is a novel concept here. I think I learnt the art of zen when I was watching someone send a roman candle straight up into a crowd of long hanging electricity cables. Nobody but me had a care in the world.
It was so fantastic to not only be here in Jaipur for Diwali, but to have been so generously included in what is a family celebration. I am a very lucky girl.