Lighting up Laporiya during Diwali
on Indian Bells (India), 06/Nov/2010 08:37, 34 days ago
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Yesterday was Diwali, or the Festival of Light, India's biggest festival. It's a 3 day holiday in India, much like Christmas with lots of Happy Diwali phone calls, texts and emails. Living with my family in Laporiya, I had the opportunity to witness the whole process. It started a couple of weeks ago when all rooms had to be thoroughly cleaned, our office was repainted and new bed covers and carpets were bought for each bedroom. This was all to please Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and yesterday was given over to her worship. We invited her into our house, lighting small earthen butter lamps or diyas to illuminate her way and painting footprints before each doorway so that she would know which rooms to enter. Apparently Laxmi likes cleanliness, so will enter the cleanest rooms first.During the day we had a special breakfast which included keer (delicious, sweet rice pudding), and puri (deep fried flaky roti) and prepared plates for puja (offerings). Half the family went to the nearest city to buy sweets and other items to help make the offerings.As night fall approached, the small butter candles were placed all over the house, on the edge of each step and on every windowsill. Climbing to a high point in the building we could look out over the village during a regular powercut to see hundreds of flickering candles shining out of the darkness. The priests had given the designated time of 6.30pm to 8pm to make our Lakshmi puja, so each family assembled in their own living quarters to present spices, grains, sweets, incense and holy thread to the goddess, hoping she would bring wealth and happiness in the coming year. The puja ended with a special devotional song to Lakshmi then touching the feet of elderly family members as a mark of respect.After attending puja with my boss' family, then in my father's study to his cheque books and money, it was time for a brief makeshift session in my room. I didn't have a picture of the right god, but luckily my sister had bought a spare one for me. My father wished me peace, happiness and money for the future and pressed a tilak to my forehead as the room filled with incense. This was one night where the lights in every room were left on to welcome Lakshmi.Crackers and sparklers followed and afterwards I sat quietly at the front of the house, drinking my evening milk and watching the bright explosions over the village. Quietly contemplative and somewhat missing my family during this time of togetherness.Today everyone is wearing new clothes, and according to tradition, all the villagers came to our house to offer sweets and say Happy Diwali. More puja was made, this time to Lord Krishna, who is the cow herder. This involved the women of the house gathering around a large cow pat while a lady Brahmin priest mixed it with curd and sweets and other goodies while singing praises to the god. I've been told vehicles will also be worshipped today.The views expressed in this weblog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of VSO.