October 26, 2011

Festival of lights

Diwali- also known as the "festival of lights," is a festival celebrated by the Hindus. It is one of the most important festivals of the year for them and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. Having lived most of my growing years in the Southern Bhutan among the Lhotsampas, I had been a keen observer of the transformation of the celebration.

As a child, I grew up helping my Lhotsam friends in preparing the diyas (small clay lamps filled with oil) and making garlands from the flowers what grew in the gardens during the festival. We would wait till the dusk to light those lamps and then go from house to house in groups singing and dancing  where the host would fill our bags with edibles and some cash. The night stroll would continue till dawn.

Now more than two decades later, I see the festival being celebrated but this time with so much transformation. The diyas have given its way to the candles which the people can buy anytime anywhere. The garlands used nowadays don’t have the fragrance since it’s usually made of colourful plastics and papers. The children celebrate the festival with same zest but this time they use fire crackers of different size and shapes that makes lots of noise when ignited.

As I type this, I can hear the firecrackers bursting just outside my gate.