Today is another holiday off work for me and the entire country, this time for the Hindu holiday Diwali. The holiday celebrates lights on the darkest night of the year, symbolizing overcoming darkness with light.
Last night we were invited to celebrate with a nurse from the hospital. The talk about Diwali is a “motorcade of lights”, which I quickly assumed would be a simple parade with some christmas-light-covered cars in a parade. Nope.
The “motorcade” is an actual motorcade of 25-30-ish trucks (like, semi-truck trailers) pulling floats decorated to the max. The motorcade starts in Georgetown and drives 5-6 miles to a village outside of the city where it ends. Each float was covered completely in glitter, lights, jewels and decorations. Tons of little girls (and some boys) were dressed in ornate costumes as Hindu gods and either sat in god-style poses, or danced on or on top of the float. They were insane, they put all parades I’ve ever seen in America to shame (even the Osceola Mills 4th of July Parade, sorry everyone). It was so cool! There was Indian music playing loudly from each float and from the grounds where we watched the motorcade end; we left before the judging began, but there was a winner of the night as well.
Where we were there were probably 5,000 people all celebrating together, eating and dancing and singing along. We had the traditional meal: seven-curry. As it sounds, its seven types of vegetarian curry all in one dish served with rice. This is all served in, no joke, a lily pad! And you eat it with just your hand. I felt a little barbaric but really loved it, you just mix it together and scoop it all up with your fingers. And yeah, I’m sure my hands haven’t been clean enough to eat out of since August, but whatever.. I loved it.
The night was amazing; the culture behind the event was so festive and there was so much pride behind the lights and decorations. Of course last night was the night I decided to not take my camera “just in case it gets stolen”, so I’ll have to rely on my roommates pictures to share the experience. Tonight the Hindu tradition will continue with lighting diyas (candles) all around homes and houses. It seems like its quite a sight and after the intense lights last night I’m excited to see it continue tonight!
It only took a few looks around at the celebration last night to know there was no place I would rather have been.