It’s my third year in India and every year as the winter months approaches, the fellow students of my college are more or less thinking about the holidays. The season is indeed festive and every single month starting September has at least one important festival to celebrate, a different god to worship and of course a different pray for our multifarious desire, which is something not uncommon. Religions are diverse and so are the Gods and Goddesses, but I felt that the ultimate creator of this universe would be only one God, The God of All Gods.
This November, the first festival to be celebrated was Deepawali ( Diwali), an important five-day festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. For Hindus, it is one of the important festivals where the families unite together and celebrate by performing traditional activities. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. Like we Bhutanese during the time of celebrating tsechu, they wear new cloths and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. It is said that Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. To me it reminds me of the Descending Day of Lord Buddha, who after savouring her mother from the ephemeral world suffering in Lhayul to the Dewachen-ge-zhingkham, the eternal world of peace and tranquillity, on 22nd day of the Ninth month in lunar calendar.
They have all gone. Only a handful of students were left in the three storeyed hostel. Unlike the normal days, I could sense the real peace and amity, without any whistles and screams. In one way, it also seemed to be a haunted house, abandoned by all. This year fifth November is the particular day when diwali is celebrated. During the day time, people follow their regular customaries. Nothing unusual was done but as dusk draw nearer, the lights glow brighter. The little chawk at the college gate has got a different look that day. Unlike other days where the rags shattered everywhere, the men urinating beside the walls, the road so dusty and stinking from every corner, it was neatly maintained. There was fragrance from every corner and a beautiful temple was temporarily statured for the worship of god Rama. The shops were beautifully decorated with lights glowing in different colour and it blinks following a systemic rhythm. Sweets are something which is not uncommon during festivals. The shopkeepers offered us sweets and wished “Happy Deepawali”.
Slowly there were sounds of crackers bursting, bombs blasting and as night darkened, the sound grew louder and louder. The dark sky gradually got replaced with light of bursting crackers. It seems the stars were falling, the world seemed full of lights and peace but suddenly it reminded me of the recent hazardous fire of Chamkhar, which grazed the entire town into ground on the fateful morning of 26 October, 2010. My heart was then suddenly filled with grief and woe. I closed my eyes and prayed for the steady recovery of the victims of the worst calamity back at home. I too prayed for non recurrence of such incidents in the future. I too was worried what if the festival of light that night engulfed the entire city, but it was clear in my mind that such disaster wouldn’t ensue due to the blessings of god Rama, to whom millions were praying that day. The fellow students in our hostel also started blasting the tiny bombs and bursting the crackers high in the air. Candles were lit all over the verandas and roofs. They call it the “Festival of Light” but if precautions are not taken, it’s also a “Festival of Fright.”
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