Sunday, November 11, 2007


For the past 5 days most of India has been celebrating Diwali, one of the biggest festivals here in India. In almost every house people are cleaning all the rooms, hanging lights and paper lanterns in the windows, putting diyas on the doorstep, and setting off firecrackers at night. It’s five days of great food and total masti (Gujarati for fun), and this was the first year that I got to celebrate it in India.

This Diwali was extra special because it fell on my Mom’s birthday, November 9th. At midnight, the whole family except the youngest kids came to Kamleshbhai’s house to surprise her with cake and flowers. Dad and I also got her a huge birthday card which everyone signed.

My Mom and Dad arrived around 2 am last Sunday after a hellacious flight that was delayed almost 4 hours, culminating in 2 lost bags that have since been recovered. Sanjay Mama, Falguni Mami, Ami, and Anup came to Kandivali to meet them and have lunch, and then by 5 we were in a taxi on our way to Dadar station to catch a night train to Akola. All the traveling and jet lag have been rough on Mom and Dad, but they’ve mostly recovered by now.

Going to Akola is always fun because with so many young kids running around, you never get bored (though you might end up with a headache). Whether playing computer games with Harshal or watching Vinit and Hetvi be their cute selves, there was always something amusing to do. I also spend a lot of time with Dad visiting the family’s offices and walking around the many different markets in Akola. With Diwali approaching the markets were packed with last-minute shoppers for lights, diyas, sweets, and of course firecrackers. Each of my nephews got their own bag filled with fireworks to shoot off, though they each promised to share some with me. :)

On Diwali I went with Mom, Dad, and Maya kaki to the temple to do darshan (basically prayer). The people at the temple were busy getting everything ready to celebrate the New Year the next day, which included making flower garlands and preparing lots of sweets and snacks. Later that evening the family gathered at Kamleshbhai’s office, which is under the flat where my Dad grew up, to perform puja and set off fireworks.

Setting off the fireworks was definitely the most fun part, especially since the rules here are quite lax compared to the US about the kind of fireworks you can buy and where you can set them off. In front of offices along the whole street people were setting off fountains, bombs, sparklers, and bottle rockets. Some of the rockets I got to set off were the large ones that usually only the licensed groups get to shoot at the large firework shows. Getting to see those large starbursts up close was quite exciting. With everyone setting off fireworks, just walking down the street became a bit hazardous, and even the cars and scooters that went by had to be careful not get caught driving past a meeti bomb as it exploded.

Here's an amazing shot Dad took of my nephew Shantanu enjoying the fireworks:

1 comment:

Sapana said...

That's awesome. Oh, and that picture is worthy of posting on the BBC's "The Week in Pictures" page. I'm serious. In fact, I'll try that myself!