Iris Chiang
Iris Chiang
India 2016-2017
I studied psychological science and art studies at Belmont University. I am going to Auroville, India to work under an art therapist for a program called Sankalpa. Read More About Iris →

Festival of Lights

Firecrackers are not allowed in Auroville. They are not environmentally friendly. They leave a lot of litter in the streets and sewers. The noise pollution scares away wildlife. The poor air quality peaks during Diwali weekend in every city in India as the crackers release unnatural chemicals. When you’re actually bursting firecrackers, ashes will burn your skin when you’re too close, you have temporary blindspots in your vision from staring at colorful fire at night, and you suffer from temporary hearing loss when the little bombs go off with a surprising amount of force.



But it’s all part of the festival! Have you really experienced Diwali in India if you haven’t giggled like a crazy person while running away from a firecracker you just lit and having waited a long, full minute, watching the small glow at the end of the string get brighter and dim, thinking it’s a flop, and then being convinced that you’ve lost your ear drums when it blows up after everyone uncovers their ears?


We were invited to celebrate Diwali in a home in a nearby village and greeted warmly by a local school principal. We probably bursted over 100 firecrackers. Then, we sat on the floor with the family and had a home cooked meal on banana leaves. Tummies and hearts full, we drove back through the village on the motorbike. All around us, fireworks explode colorfully in the sky and firecrackers burst brightly on the streets. Celebrations like these reflect so clearly the culture I have been immersed in: the hospitality, the generosity, the in-the-moment mindset, the joy. It’s been one month and I’m still blown away by this place every single day.

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