It’s the start of the Christmas season back home but the South Asian equivalent of Christmas was celebrated here about a month ago. Someone told me that it is a festival of lights, which makes sense given the way that it is celebrated with the lighting of lamps. Traditionally they light small oil lamps called “diyas” to acknowledge that it is through light that we can see the beauty in the world. They are beautiful, exotic looking tea lights. The modern celebration includes hanging lights that look remarkably similar to our Christmas lights on the outside of their houses and businesses. It’s also traditional to give new clothes as gifts – something I can wholeheartedly support. I wonder how many South Asian children actually get excited about that part? Anyway, the best/worst part of this festival is the use of fireworks or “crackers.” The noise all over the city makes it sound a bit like a war zone – and it continues for days.
We celebrated the festival in a nearby city while we were teaching a course at a law school there. Not being locals, it was a bit of a hunt to locate the crackers but we eventually found a armed forces shop (no joke, sanctioned by the Air Force) and bought the world’s largest collection of crackers, which were significantly discounted because the festival was almost over. We returned to the law school and used our new toys on the road behind the school. The plaintiff attorney’s daughter in me was a bit apprehensive but my husband was like a 10 year old. I have to admit – it was really fun.
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