The eve of the Diwali Festival fell on October 23 this 2014. This is like New Year’s Eve across India where a festival of lights, fireworks and gifts of sweets is celebrated nationwide. It is a 5 day festival where homes and buildings are festooned with lights and people get busy days or weeks before, cleaning their premises and hanging those lights. People also buy new clothes to wear and the nightsky get all lit up by fireworks, much like welcoming the new year.



Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word deepavali which means “row of lights”. It is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains alike in the tradition of welcoming home Rama and Sita based on the Sanskrit epic Ramayana (Hindu), or the release and homecoming of Guru Hargobind (who was imprisoned by a Mughal emperor) in the Sikh tradition. Among Jains, Diwali celebrates the attainment of enlightenment of Lord Mahavira who laid down the tenets of the Jain religion as practiced today.



However it is celebrated and regardless of faith, the festival is marked by fireworks, gifts of dry fruits or sweets, acts of charity, lighting of oil lamps and prayers to deities. Here, the celebration of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance assume universal appeal. We were lucky to celebrate this lights festival with locals in Jaipur’s Diggi Palace.



It was a perfect excuse for us to buy and don our sarees. What a chore to choose from all those lovely, vibrant colors! And what an even bigger chore to wear them. I did mine in a jiffy but felt uncomfortable the entire night, worrying I’d leave so many yards of gossamer fabric like a heap on the floor. It took us too long — along with the picture-taking — to leave our hotel for the dinner-show cum fireworks display in Diggi Palace. We caught the last few numbers of the cultural performance while enjoying dinner under the night sky.



Today, many cities elsewhere in the world observe Diwali Festival. Diwali decorations adorn homes and buildings especially in areas where there are Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities. We were only too happy we celebrated it while we were in Jaipur.