The colors of Rangoli,
And the sound of crackers.
The gifts and sweets from dear ones,
The light of the candles below,
And the dazzling fireworks up above.
Lighting lamps at our homes,
Putting on new apparels,
Show our friends some style.
Paying respects to the gods,
This is what the occasion is all about,
This is the spirit of Deepavali.
The countdown for Diwali had begun. I was feeling nostalgic and missing the festive celebrations which I knew would be going on in India. This was the first Diwali away from home.
When my daughter returned from school, she handed me an invitation for a lantern making workshop to be conducted in school as a part of Diwali Parade. As she was very keen to participate in it, I enrolled our names.
On November 2nd, Workshop resumed at 9 a.m.in her school auditorium. We had fun making lanterns with the help of willow branches, tissue papers, wire, masking tape, sponge, bamboo stick, paste and small bulbs for decoration.
This is the lantern we made for the parade.
On November 3rd, annual Diwali lantern procession took place at Market Square in Northampton, organized by the Indian Hindu Welfare Organisation (IHWO) and supported by Northampton Borough Council. There were food stalls, family-friendly activities followed by cultural events.
We reached the Majestic Guildhall @ 5.30 pm and collected our lanterns from the school authorities. There were children from many schools participating in the parade with lantern lights, drummers and light-structures of Hanuman, Ravana, Ram, Sita, Harminder the elephant and Shanti the big bird.
The great hall of Guildhall
We had fun and was lucky for walking in the procession between Lord Ram, Sita and Ravana light-structures headed up Abington Street, round the Fish Street, past the Guildhall, and to the Market Square with illuminated lights. My daughter gave the widest smile I had ever seen her give when Lord Ram gave her a handshake.
Dignitaries took to the stage for speeches and countdown to switch on the Diwali Lights in the Market Square, before bhangra music and dancing close the event at 8 pm.
On November 4th, there was a Diwali family get-together arranged by husband’s colleagues. They arranged yummy Indian food for lunch, games and cultural events.
On the same day, Northampton Borough Council hosted a spectacular fireworks display and entertainment nights on account of Guy Fawkes Night.
I was tempted to see desserts and icecreams at Kaspa’s – The King of Desserts and had it on our way to The Racecourse Park where the fireworks display was about to commence.
Thousands of spectators watched the fire performance, glow show and the fireworks display. It was mesmerizing. I was spellbound.
On November 5th, kids were taught by teachers the significance of Diwali, rangoli-making, preparing coconut barfi, how to drape saree and Indian dance to the whole class. Parents were asked to attend for last 1 hr to see what children learned. My daughter surprised me with her dance performance and the coconut barfi which she made at school. I was so proud of her.
On November 6th, we bought yummy and mouthwatering delicacies from an Indian Sweet Shop in Northampton. Can Diwali be complete without sweets?
I had memorable Diwali celebrations for 5 days with my family and the sweet and kind-hearted English people who participated in the festivities cheerfully.
However memorable the celebrations were, it still is too much to hope for when compared with the boisterous celebrations we have back home in India.