I’ve been in India many times but I’ve never been able to experience the lights and excitement of Diwali. Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is India’s largest celebration. It’s also called the Festival of Light. It signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. India is lit up by oil candles and strings of bright colored lights. Gifts are exchanged and many sweets are prepared for gifts and guests.
This year I was able to spend Diwali in Punjab state. I saw the preparations, lights, sweets, and children’s toys in Chandigarh, then I went on to Amritsar to enjoy the big celebrations, culminating in fireworks.
My hotel was located right across the road from the Golden Temple entrance which made it very simple to visit the temple whenever I wanted. No rickshaw required. The Police blocked off the roads in front of the temple, so getting there by rickshaw wasn’t easy.
I walked across the road, lifted my dupata to cover my head, dropped off my shoes at the shoe depository, washed my hands and walked thru the trough of water to cleanse my feet. Then I walked into the mass of people which had come to view the lights and Diwali fireworks.
Being in a place this crowded is something I don’t do often. I’ve visited this temple on every trip to India. It’s always busy here but I’ve never seen this many people at the temple. The peace and serenity I enjoyed the day before was no more.
My friend and I took prayer candles to light. We stuck them alongside all the other candles that were glowing throughout the temple compound. We then made our way to the exit stairs and were able to get out of the crowd before it dispersed.
Being there on Diwali was something on my bucket list. I’m glad I did it. I enjoy the temple on its quieter days, so in the future you won’t find me there on Diwali.