A Cracking experience – Diwali, India – and actually everywhere else

Diwali is a massive festival held throughout India and most other parts of the world,  in either October or November, depending upon the lunar calendar. Literally meaning the “Festival of the Lights” this is one crazy festival not to be missed. Steeped in tradition it is marked by many days of celebrations’, which include literally millions of candles and even more fireworks being let off – everywhere!

The origins of Diwali are related directly to the harvest and is also directly linked to the Hindu traditions and beliefs associated with the return of the Lord Rama after a 14-year exile and ridding India of the demon Rvana. This is where the origins of the Diwali festival stem from, as the king was greeted upon his return with an illuminated kingdom and the continuous burst of fireworks by his loyal subjects.

In both city and countryside, small clay oil lamps (or diyas) are placed at the thresholds of homes, shops, and offices to celebrate this big occasion. They are to be seen everywhere.

Hindus throughout India also believe that during Diwali, the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, will visit their homes if they are lit, clean and beautifully decorated. It is also traditional to leave all windows and doors open to enable the goddess to enter to enhance your prosperity. Just beware of this!

The fireworks are a display of respect to the heavens aimed at encouraging great happiness and wealth. It is also said that the noise (and what a lot of noise there is) is to assist to defeat evil and attract the gods’ attention. Well, it is certainly loud enough to achieve this.

The constant gambling is also an expected feature of Diwali, as to gamble is to follow legend and to again bring forth the chance of wealth and prosperity. So, if you are a dab hand at poker or blackjack then you might also stand a chance at this prosperity.

This most special of Hindu festivals is not to be missed, as it seriously goes right off – get it! Each day of the festival sees homes and businesses lit with many many candles, and the rampant displays of fireworks. It is not just confined to the lavish organised  displays of fireworks only, but indeed the throwing of crackers absolutely everywhere. It is free for all, so if you leave a window open, inevitably crackers will be thrown in. This includes cars and any moving or immovable object or person. The celebration is loud, noisy, colourful and seriously over the top. Best of all it is tremendous fun. It does get a little out of control in some areas, so just be a little cautious.

During Diwali there are many gatherings of family and friends to celebrate this festival and a lot of food is prepared and shared including Indian sweets — known as mithai, which are exchanged.

India is a big place with a massive population – so just try and imagine the noise and the lights and the colours that are seriously OTT.