Today is the Hindu holiday of Diwali/Deepavali or Festival of Lights, a celebration for a number of major events in the Hindu religion. Officially, it is a 5-day festival featuring a lot of lights, fireworks, fairs, music, and sweets, and most schools take 10 days off for the celebration (We are taking 2 or 3). People and businesses around Udaipur have set up various levels of decoration including drawing numerous designs on the street, and lights ranging from large LEDs to flashing lights to simple candles used to welcome the goddess Lakshmi. It is a holiday where many people will travel to see their family and extended family; one of the days is specifically dedicated to siblings spending time together. Even this morning, after being bombarded last night, I was awoken to the melodious sounds of dynamite-strength fireworks being exploded right outside my door to the excitement of many children. The fireworks are definitely a highlight; especially since the most popular ones here are illegal in the US due to the strength and volume of them.
There are a few similarities between Diwali and Christmas. One of the most interesting ones is that people will buy gifts for themselves in a sort of celebration of prosperity related to the end of the harvest season throughout most of India. A friend of mine at work told me around Diwali businesses typically will sell 5,000 two wheelers (motorcycles) and 1,000 four wheelers (cars/jeeps), just in Udaipur. Though some people do follow the belief that “it is better to give than to receive” and distribute Diwali gifts for their family and friends. Besides cars, people will make other large purchases and consume A LOT of sweets. Can’t really stress this enough. People love Gulab Jamun and other similar looking/tasting sweets here, which is a small round, brown ball that feels like a massive injection of sugar directly into your blood stream. Needless to say, they’re pretty good.
Work is getting busier now that I have a more comfortable, casual repoire with people at the organization. I have started to expand my focus from just researching funding organizations and writing proposals to developing JJVS’ annual report as well as writing content and SEO suggestions for their website. I have been very lucky to be able to work with the organization in a number of different ways, and they are always very helpful whenever I need anything, including a lesson on how to make chai, which is a lot easier than I anticipated (though my first two attempts have not quite been true Indian Level Chai)
I’m currently preparing for a trip to New Delhi and Pushkar next week. In Pushkar, there is massive camel fair all next week where people and pilgrims from all around the world come to see the 1,000 of camels, other animals, and various ceremonies taking place. So next post might be a bit late, but definitely worth the wait.