As Dumbledore once said:
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”
And that is Diwali, explained in a nutshell.
The festival of lights is my favourite holiday, one of the main reasons being that the festival has an amazing build-up, an equally fantastic main-day and an immensely satisfying end. I love how every city in India comes alive for the festival and especially this year, Diwali had more excitement and vigour cause last year, celebrations were completely subdued owing to the pandemic.
In this post, Imma show you how my city of Pune comes alive during the festival.
Lanterns are literally a symbol of Diwali all over the country. During the festival, you’ll find no building that doesn’t have at least one lantern in its windows. The pictures above are taken in a lantern market which stretches down the length of one full street, with each stall displaying lanterns in various shapes, colours and sizes. Some stalls even have impressive ways of display, for instance, one stall had a string of lanterns going up to the sky.
I love how this arrangement involves all the star shaped lanterns which gives it a very cosmic vibe. Star shaped lanterns are my favourite and every year, there’s new kinds of star lanterns introduced which really makes my variety-driven heart happy:) Lantern makers really get very creative each year and especially now, since a Make In India Movement has come into being to support local artisans and to encourage artistic talent in the country, the varieties and quality of lanterns have really improved, with some lanterns even being mechanised to rotate, as well as some with disco lights.
Speaking of local artisans at the time of Diwali, I bring to you the very essence of the festival.
This here, is a stall selling earthen lamps or Diyas. These lamps are made by the local potters and some of them are hand-painted while some are sold plain. Diyas come in various shapes and sizes, right from large ones, shaped like elephants and conch shells to small ones shaped like lotus flowers.
This stall also sold small, colourful earthen pots which serve as candle holders to add a unique look to your home or balcony when lit up at night. The plain diyas are often bought and painted by children as a school Diwali activity or even as a fun hobby at home. I too have quite a collection of diyas that I’ve painted myself. These lamps can either be lit with a cotton wick doused in oil or one can simply place a tea-light in them. I like to use tea lights as it lasts longer and also keeps the diyas from getting ashy. Besides, tea-lights illuminate stronger than the cotton wick and the final look of my balcony with the diyas is something like this:
Another curious thing sold in these shops is little statues of either animals or local vendors such as vegetable and fruit vendors, or even historical figures and Gods.
During Diwali, there’s a concept of making a fort and decorating it with these statues. The forts are either made out of mud or they can even be bought in these stalls. Decorating a fort is one of my favourite things to do but the fort that I had broke a year ago so I didn’t have one this year. The whole setup looks something like this:
The Diwali marketplace also consists of shops selling decorative electric lights, flower shops, bangle sellers as well as stalls selling boxes of sweets.
This shop sells a curious combination of festive lights as well as fancy clothes. Both of which are absolute essentials for Diwali. 🙂
Bangle sellers truly have my heart as I am a person who can never get enough of bangle shopping. I love the colours and the decoration on the bangles and each time I look into a bangle shop, there’s colours that I have never even dreamed of and it obviously becomes a pressing need to buy those bangles. During Diwali, a lot of bangle sellers bring their shops out onto the footpath and the ease with which they sell their ware is impressive, owing to the immense footfall and Pune’s chaotic traffic. Marigold flowers are an essential for every Indian festival. The plates of fruit that can be seen in the corner of the flower shops are used as an offering to the Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth and prosperity.
There’s no Diwali without sweets:) Cadbury has a special Celebrations box for Diwali and many other local brands also come up with their own hampers for gifting. It’s always exciting to receive a box of sweets and many a times, it’s almost like barter where the whole party exchanges the said boxes of sweets.
Firecrackers are the life of Diwali. In India, we don’t limit ourselves to the fireworks in the sky. We also have various sparklers and flower pots, as well as explosives which are quite an accomplishment to burst. Last year, there were hardly any firecrackers sold but this year, all the stalls were up and the people really bought a huge stock of fireworks. It is believed that the sound of crackers drives away evil and Diwali is a symbol of the victory of the good against evil.
Moving on from the shops, Imma now show you the final result of all the lights and lamps. In Pune, a lot of bridges are specially lit up for Diwali but the real splendour is seen in the decorations put up by the malls. On Diwali night, it’s fun to drive around the city and look at the lighting on bridges, malls and hotels so without further ado, Imma show you a city decked in light.
It’s so heartening to see the malls all geared up for Diwali especially after the low celebrations of the past year. It really shows a step back into normalcy.
Some malls have certain stairways which are lined by trees, decorated in fairy lights. They also have huge decorations on light in their lawns which provide for amazing photobooths.
In Pune, there is a township called ‘Magarpatta’ where the residents line the footpaths with diyas every Diwali. It’s a beautiful sight as there are no street-lamps and the whole road is illuminated by these diyas. It’s also a lovely way of getting together during Diwali:) It is the festival of lights after all:)
And that is a wrap!
Until Next Time,