Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chennai Holidays: Deepavali

This week's bonus holiday is courtesy of Diwali or Deepavali, the festival of light. Let me just start by saying Diwali is a BIG deal. Most cultures/religions have an Autumn holiday to celebrate the harvest, but Diwali is the biggest and most celebrated holiday for Hindus, much like Christmas for Christians (slash most of the Western world). It was prefaced with several weeks of major sales and people cleaning and decorating. Starting nearly a week before the day we started hearing random fireworks going off. The evening before the holiday they began in earnest with literally thousands (if not millions) of fireworks going off. Diwali had scattered fireworks going off all day, but was otherwise one of the quietest days we've seen in India. There was almost no traffic and relatively few people on the streets. Once night fell though... the fireworks really picked up. The attached video (definitely watch it with the sound) gives you an idea of what it was like. We are lucky that we have roof access to our building and our building is higher than most of the surrounding buildings and trees. It was literally a 360 degree firework display. Every direction and every distance there were fireworks. From street crackers, to rooftop roman candles to professional grade sky bursters(?), you could literally read a newspaper by the light of all the fireworks. I know I'm using the word literally a lot, but standing on the roof seeing that many fireworks going off is... well, indescribable... I did my best, but it doesn't do it justice. At one point, I saw 5 roman candles going off on 5 different rooftops at the same time and that was in one direction. Oh yeah, and it went on for hours both nights!

Edit: It is now officially 2 days after Diwali... and there are still periodic fireworks going off (at midnight)!

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