If you are planning to be in New Delhi this Friday, 5 November, your auditory, visual and sensory senses are in for an overdose. It is Diwali, the festival where every family, especially in north India, celebrates by lighting oil-wick lamps, dressing up in new clothes, sharing gifts with friends, associates and relatives. And, bursting crackers. The entire sky is filled with bright sparkles, rockets whiz past, at times alarmingly close, little children, fearless explode big bombs…great fun!
Not so much for you if you like your peace and quiet. Cacophony was a word invented to describe the Diwali mayhem. As to why it is celebrated, legend has it that the people of Ayodhya lit oil-lamps to welcome back their God-king, Lord Rama from exile and celebrate his victory over the evil-king Ravana.
Everybody is not having fun though. The fire department, as you would expect, is on high alert. Every year, on Diwali day, a number of fire and burn incidents are reported. The cracker fumes, linger in the air. Their acrid smell a bitter aftertaste for asthmatics. If you do happen to be in town on Friday, avoid going out in the evening. Try and get a high vantage point where you are staying and enjoy a spectacular, un-orchestrated show that is very much like India itself – spontaneous and bewildering. As for the etiquette, just use this phrase to greet: Happy Diwali!