November 11, 2004
Happy Diwali

The lights of Soho Road Handsworth (Birmingham), Belgrave Road (Leicester), Southall Broadway and Ealing Road (Wembley) are lit - and the weekend’s festivities are about to begin. For many like the Route 79 posse - it’s a great excuse for families to get together to remind each other that we still exist. Also - for many - it’s a great excuse to set off annoyingly loud fireworks. (You see: it is a tradition in recent years amongst obscenely materialistic Indians in London - that the wealthier you are - the louder, more elaborate and expensive your fireworks are.)

Taken from the front of the upper deck of my bus earlier this evening: here is a shot of the Diwali street-lighting decorating Ealing Road in Wembley (North West London) - which is the path of my beloved Route 79 bus journey home. (Click on the pic for an interesting effect.)

Happy Diwali.
(A few pictures of the celebratory street-decoration in Ealing Road Wembley)

The term “Diwali” is a corrupted version of the word “Deepavali” - which in Sanskrit literally means “a row of lamps”. One of the amazing things about the Diwali celebration is how (for Indians at least) it carries a significance that transcends most of India’s communities and religions.

For Hindu peoples - it is a five-day celebration that, on the third day, involves worship to the Goddess Lakshmi - for blessings of prosperity and wealth as well as the triumphs of good over evil and light over darkness. Hence the term “festival of lights”. (Although Hindu mythology refers to Diwali as the commemoration of the return of Ram (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and the eldest son of King Dasharath of Ayodhya, from a 14-year exile with Sita and Lakshman after killing the Ravan, a demon king. The people of Ayodhya illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and fireworks to celebrate the return of their king.)

For Sikh peoples - Diwali is celebrated as the return of the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji from captivity (along with 52 other Hindu Kings released on the same day by Moghul Emperor Jahangir at the Guru’s insistence) to his home town of Amritsar. The townspeople of Amritsar lighted up the way to Harmandhir Sahib (the Golden Temple) in his honour. (By coincidence - it happens that way before this event - Diwali is the day that foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid - in 1577.)

For Jain peoples - Diwali is the most important festival - celebrating the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira who established the dharma as followed today. In fact - the word “Dipavali” first written in Jain holy texts. It was composed in Shaka Samvat 705. Thus people in Bharata (India) every year celebrate the famous “Dipalikaya”, to respectfully worship the Jinendra on the occasion of his Nirvana. Diwali is not mentioned in Valmiki’s Ramayana, Mahabharata, brahmanical Puranas or in Tulsidas’s Ram-charit-manas. So, it is most probably that Diwali is predominantly a Jain custom, which was Indianised later on and therefore celebrated by almost every Indian.

Anyway - no matter who you are and where you are from - a Happy Diwali to you all!

Posted by jag at November 11, 2004 10:18 PM

For south Indians, Deepawali is not the festival of return of Rama to Ayodhya, its completely different.

They believe that Narakasura, one of the deamons, kidnaps Aditi, mother of Gods, and some other devine women from Indraprastha, Capital of Indra. Then Lord Krishna goes for a battle with this Narakasura, but becomes unconscious in the battle when he gets hit by an arrow. Satyabhama, the most beautiful/arrogant/famous wife of Krishna accompanies him to this battle. Once Krishna faints, she picks up the arms and fights with Narakasura and kills him and joy returns the heaven and earth with this.

This is what south indians believe in, you can find the story here

We burn huge effigies of Narakasura, just like Northies burn effigies of Ravan on Diwali.

Posted by: Ramdhan Kotamaraja on November 12, 2004 04:45 AM

Imagine about 600 years from now, somehow the 5th of November gets linked with Deepavali and it either Ravana (a southie) or Narakasura (a northie) or Guy Fawkes (an Irish man) who’s effigy gets burnt. But it is a great excuse to still scare the shit out of your neighbours dog!

Posted by: Anand on November 12, 2004 09:54 AM

Most Northern hemisphere cultures have some kind of light/fire festival around now - I’ve read theories that it is connected back to the human desire to defy the on-rushing winter hence occuring at the autumn equinox (midway between the summer and winter solstices). So Guy Fawkes Night, the Chinese Double Yang Festival[1] and Diwali come from the same desire to celebrate life in the darkness.

[1]OK, that doesn’t have fireworks, but it is about driving away danger. The Mid Autumn festival is held in late September and does involve lanterns.

Posted by: Mags on November 12, 2004 11:07 AM

Happy Diwali to you and family! Have a happy, healthy and prosperous next year.

Best Wishes,

M & M

Posted by: Snappy on November 12, 2004 07:09 PM

Happy diwali

Posted by: stroppycow on November 12, 2004 10:50 PM

Seems to me that it is quite a colorful festival there.

I miss the Diwali sweets though.

Posted by: sat on November 13, 2004 07:16 AM

Dishoom the Darkness…Happy Diwali ..

Posted by: Fritz on November 14, 2004 05:55 AM

Belated Wishes Jag.. hope u & your family had a great time!

Posted by: Chakra on November 15, 2004 09:33 AM

a happy belated diwali!

Posted by: Jaina on November 15, 2004 01:06 PM

I love your site! reminds me of my times in London, and the recipies are mouthwatering, can’t wait to try some of them.

Posted by: Brom-man on November 15, 2004 08:38 PM

Hi Ramdhan - many thanks for filling me in on this! Well - i have definitely learned something new - and I have to admit I have been a “Northie” for far too long! Cheers!

Anand: Couldn’t agree more!

Mags: I think you’re absolutely right - there is a tendency to celebrate the “power of good over evil” in many cultures at this time of year!

Marcus/Margareta: seasons greetings to you too! Cheers!

Strop: Many thanks! Hoe you, the boy and Him Indoors had a great weekend too!

Sat: You must make sure you spend some future Diwali in London - I am sure you will enjoy it! I have overdosed on pistachio barfi and jalebis for last few days!

Fritz: and you too! Dishoom!

Chakra: Likewise!

Jaina: Indeed - hope you enjoyed your weekend in Portugal! (Not that I’m jealous mind you!)

Brom-man: Thanks! Hope you do get to try the cooking. Be sure to share your experiences if you do!

Posted by: Jag on November 15, 2004 11:49 PM

in a hurry so textin u—- hpydwli2:))

Posted by: ubermensch on November 17, 2004 03:30 PM
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