It’s festival season!

Now I just need a puzzled monkey

Per tradition, I have today, the day after Thanksgiving, decorated a nifty little tree in my apartment, hung some bits of garland and turned on some holiday tunes.

Festival season — the Dussehra to New Year’s Eve blitz — has been underway for a while. I’m celebrating Diwali late with lights and Christmas early with my Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), also known as the Monkey Puzzle tree.

No more cut trees, as beautiful and mulch-compostable as they are. I went with a live evergreen that I picked at a local nursery. It’s already nearly five-feet tall and if properly treated for the next several years it will continue to grow even indoors. This is a more grown-up version of the same tree I had in India for a few seasons.

As I type this, I’m already basking in warm, holiday glow.

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Colors of diwali

Painting with flowers

A day after diwali, friends and I got together to make rangoli. Well, technically, they made rangoli while I read. And then took pictures of the process.

The girls created a design with flower petals, flour and colored talcum — all part of the diwali tradition. And they lit the final product with diyas — small tea lights in clay holder. See below.

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Diwali aftermath: swastik of diyas

Leftovers... at 4 a.m.

On my 3:30 a.m. stumble home, I found this partially destroyed swastik of candles. The leftovers of the festival of lights.

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That's my dupatta!

Diwali dance party. Above, Dave stole my stole and partied with it. Below, well, it’s the festival of lights, so clap your hands, everybody.

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Make rocket go now

Stand back

Every Diwali season, Delhi goes up in smoke. For days leading up to the festival of lights, kids and not-quite-kids “burst crackers” and light all manner of fireworks. It culminates in a hazy, loud, explosive night on Diwali itself.

Above and below are scenes from my neighborhood at about 10:30 p.m. They had been going at it for hours before. You can tell from the haze in the air.

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Diwali lights


A few months behind, but we’ll get diwali festive now. This diya and rangoli art comes from the patio of my landlord.

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Season of bright lights


I missed Diwali by a few days, but the neighborhood where my uncle lives still has plenty of decorations.

All the shops are displaying flowers and lanterns and shiny posters and garland.

And at night, the lights. And the fireworks.

It’s a bit like Christmas.

The festival — known as the Festival of Lights — has significance primarily for Hindus, but also Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. My family, being Christian, doesn’t celebrate.

For Hindus, Diwali, also spelled Divali or Deepawali or variations thereof, marks the return of Lord Rama after he defeated the evil multi-headed demon Ravana who had absconded with Sita to Lanka, as retold in the Ramayana. It is also symbolic of other victories by good over evil, or so I’m told. By Wikipedia.

I’ve read (not on Wikipedia) of mothers telling their children, “we light the lanterns to lead Rama home.”

The holiday spans multiple days and does involve a good amount of ritual partying. I like, especially it for the lights and firecrackers. With any luck, I’ll still be here for it next year.

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