We’re envious of IgoUgo members like koshkha and elsam, who’ve had up close and personal experiences of the Hindu festival of Diwali – a beautiful five-day celebration marked by thousands of twinkling lights. Not planning a trip to India for this year’s festival, which starts on November 5th? Light oil lamps (and if you’ve got them, a few firecrackers too!), and honor the holiday your own way. Or, admire the photos and eyewitness accounts from fellow travelers, and get inspired to mark your calendar for the 2011 celebrations.
SEE IT If you do go, says koshkha, consider finding a window seat to see the light displays. During a trip to Darjeeling, she booked a room with a view, and “sat at the window watching Darjeeling explode.” “Diwali night is the biggest night of the year for fireworks,” she says.
VISIT IT The Golden Temple in Amritsar, India is a can’t miss location too, says IgoUgo member elsam. It’s already jaw-droppingly gilded, but especially impressive during Diwali. The city itself glows, remembers koshkha, because “the temple and surrounding buildings were draped in strings of white lights which twinkled in the reflections of the water.” “The main temple is all lit up,” says elsam. “We walked around the gleaming sarovar [sacred pool], reflecting the illuminations of the previous night, with the gurbani playing in the background.” If you go, consider planning your visit very early, advises ustrand. “We got there by 4am and joined the queue with other devotees,” he says.
KEEP IT GOING Other Diwali experiences you may want to have? In Hyderabad, India there’s a unique custom of bathing a buffalo during Diwali; in every city homes are lit up with candles, colorful flower garlands fill doorways, and delicious feasts are prepared. For children, the celebration is similar to Christmas in western countries: they’re given new clothing, and encouraged (for once!) to make noise. Join in--and let your light shine.
More on IgoUgo
Darjeeling Travel Guide
Flights to India
Posted by SpecialK3883 (Kelly L. Phillips)
Comment by koshkha on November 5, 2010
In Amritsar the celebrations that coincide with Diwali are not ACTUALLY Diwali celebrations as such. Sikhs use the same day to celebrate the anniversary of the release of Guru Hargobind ji from his imprisonment in Gwalior Fort way back in 1619. And since everyone except my cats LOVES fireworks, it's great to see different religions choosing to use the same day.
And this year in the UK - for the first time in many many years - Diwali coincides with Guy Fawkes Night, a uniquely British (and commonwealth, I'm told) celebration of the night our parliament building DIDN'T get blown up. Lock up your pets and nervous relatives.