Happy Diwali!

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I was awoken this morning at 4:30am to loud fireworks going off.  The most obvious source was about 100 feet down the road from my window, but I eventually heard the entire city erupting in explosions.

I was half expecting this when I went to bed.  Yesterday was filled with it’s share of random fireworks being set off in the street.  Sriram warned me to keep an eye out if I go out on foot because you never know where these things will go off and people will assume you are alert.  Today has been a constant barrage of fireworks all around the city.  It is now almost noon and the fireworks haven’t stopped for more than 30 seconds, and that was a notable lull.

Diwali is celebrated here as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura.  The fireworks symbolize this defeat.  Apparently elsewhere it has different significance, but equal festivities.  The holiday is also referred to as the “Festival of Lights” because during the days before, during and afterward, people place oil lamps in all of the corners of their houses to drive away the darkness.  In fact last week it wasn’t uncommon to see people’s computer desktops adorned with animated oil lamps in the corners of their screens.

Another significance, at least here, for Diwali is that it is supposed to be the day that all water is coming directly from the Ganges.  By washing in the Ganges river it is believed that all of your sins up to that point are washed away.  Because all water today is to have come from the Ganges people take a bath and then put on new clothes to mark that their sins have been washed away and that they are starting anew.

Sriram is going to try and take me around to see some of the celebrations.  His aunt died earlier in the year and according to tradition his family is not supposed to celebrate any festivals for one year.  This leaves him a little more free today to be my tour guide, which is very nice of him.  I hope to have some pictures at the end of the day to show what this is like.