What a great week! As usual so many new experiences. Thats the great thing about India, every night before bed I think "now I have seen it all"
Two Saturday's ago was Diwali. Diwali would be the most popular of all the Hindu festivals, also known as the Festival of Lights. As with several other festivals, Diwali is associated with one of the stories about the destruction of evil. The festival is celebrated over several days and this year it culminated on Saturday night. Over days leading up to Diwali all the houses in our neighborhood started putting up their 'christmas' lights and we started to hear a few fireworks from time to time. Saturday we headed to the ashram in time for lunch and afterwards I headed into Narela with Shar and Ruth to pick up our clothes we had dropped off for dying. Narela was crazy busy with everyone out buying there last minute lights, candles and Diwali gifts (imagine Sydney on christmas Eve times a hundred). As we turned into the main market street we saw it was blocked off and it was too hard to back up or turn around so we just left the car where it stood and headed into the closed street. There were people everywhere buying candles, lights and sweets... oh the sweets! The whole street was covered with a net of tinsel and lights.... the atmosphere was amazing! After swinging by a tailor who invited us in for a drink and some diwali sweets we headed back through the maze of alleyways to the dying wallah... love this place. All my clothes have a new lease on life...either new colours or tie dyed. As we headed back to the car I was not looking forward to maneuvering the car back out of the closed off area and into the traffic... I was kicking myself for not taking the car with power steering. I had no hope of performing a u turn so with the help of Shar, Sam and a policeman I managed to maneuver the car out of the dead end and only nearly knocked over one motorbike.
Back at the ashram hundreds of clay pots were being filled with a wick and mustard oil while a special meal was being prepared. All the patients gathered around helping out while looking forward to the celebrations. The best way to explain diwali is like a cross between christmas and new year, which like the christian holiday christmas is enjoyed by all people. Although the ashram is christian and does not typically celebrate Hindu festivals this one seems to be almost the exception to the rule. We cannot force out beliefs on other people and with this festival it did not seem right to not allow it. So being a christian ashram we put our own spin on it and compared the lights to Jesus being the light of the world and prayed before distributing the lights and lighting them around the ashram. Once the lights were lit the ashram looked magical, lights in the dark is truly one of the most beautiful feasts for the eyes.
Before dinner we had our fireworks display... the patients loved it and where so excited. It was so great seeing Pratap who just a month ago had a huge infection in his external fixator and could hardly move; but that night he was up with his walking frame barely keeping away from the just lit fireworks. The sound of India that night was amazing, there were fireworks going off everywhere... though it did sound like a war zone it only added to the atmosphere.
Dinner was amazing it was a delicious chicken curry with amazing rice a perfect way to wind up a great night.
After dinner we headed home to our apartment seeing hundreds of fireworks lit along the way. The sound echoed around the car the whole way home. Back in our neighborhood we pulled up to one of the temporary firework stores and bought a few fireworks for the kids to light at home. Sam chose a 3 pack of larger fireworks that shoot into the sky, while Hunter chose a 10 pack of candles that spray out sparks and fire. Once we pulled up to our house and the kids let off there fireworks it was apparent we were not going to get a lot of sound sleep that night. Many of the fireworks where quite clearly not about sparks and light but rather about noise. As we stood on the balcony watching all the fireworks being lit all around us out neighbor lit some fireworks that where unbelievably loud...you could physically feel the noise and power of the blast hit your body. After about 10 minutes on the balcony my ears were a little sore so we headed in to bed. I didn't expect to be able to get to sleep that night but listening to the noise outside was actually a nice way to drop off... I am guessing that the noise continued on until 2 or 3 in the mornings. It is now 3 nights latter and still the occasional blast is heard.
Ok so I typed up the above weeks ago and I am only now getting around to posting it... oops.
Quick update... my visa status could not be changed here in India so on Monday we are taking a quick trip to Hong Kong to hopefully get it changed there. If not I will pick up a new tourist visa and sort it out in 6 months. As our lease will be all but up by the time we get back from Hong Kong we have decided to move back to the ashram this weekend. So as you can imagine it is crazy busy at the moment with trying to get the kids ahead in school, packing to move and go away, and having all the loose ends tied up at work so I can take time off!
P.s I have uploaded some very funny photos to facebook of when we went to Splash water park with Jake and Ruth. Hunter, Ruth and I rented costumes...so hot! That's another blog in itself!