Delhi, Dussehra and Diwali

The festival of Dussehra is celebrated in India as the victory of good over evil. And to celebrate, we relive the moment of an evening with the victory of Rama over Ravana. Several huge effigies of the latter are erected in the city center of Delhi, where a dense crowd converges to attend the show.

I went there with my colleague. At first we wanted to enter the main site of the event to see what was announced as a huge bonfire. But once in the queue that ran on two or three kilometers, we saw off a stampede and jitteriness. There seemed to be a lot of spectators, who are a little too eager to enter.

Not wanting to be taken especially in the midst of a dense crowd of several thousand cheering people, we preferred to watch the show from a little distance. It must be said that some policemen standing guard did not give the impression that they could hold such a large gathering.

It was then that the explosions were heard. One after another, the effigies were set ablaze as hundreds of firecrackers were burnt. The deafening noise, the agitated crowd, the air difficult to breathe, but no matter, the good had triumphed over evil and Ravana was vanquished amidst ash and smoke.

We continued our evening as we walked in Old Delhi, threading our way through the stalls of the market near the Jama Mosque Masjid. We finally ended up in the neighborhood of Chandni Chowk, before the smoking and greasy paranthas with onion, cheese, paneer and potatoes, a specialty of the area for over a century.

A few weeks later, in November, it was the turn of the highly anticipated Diwali festival which some consider the equivalent of Christmas. During the weeks before the holiday, shops trumpet their special Diwali wares with a lot of photos showing all consumer products from Electronic toys, household goods, fancy clothes, everything goes.

It is customary to exchange gifts during this holiday. Formerly, tradition dictated that dry fruits, a rather expensive food were given as a gift to friends and relatives. But in recent years, chocolate is in vogue.

Diwali is the festival of light, when small candles are light up at the entrance of the houses and backyards. There are also so-called Quebec Christmas lights that decorate the houses. Several houses in my neighborhood competed with each other and splurged to illuminate the facade with white lights. This aspect of the festival, which sometimes invites meditation, however slice with another ritual of the firecrackers.

And there you have to imagine that people do burst fireworks of all sizes from their home, and this, throughout the city of Delhi, and in virtually all of India, because it is truly a celebration that transcends regional differences. For the cultural experience I had myself lighting a rocket.

After this trip into the dark mazes of crowded and dusty Delhi, we stepped into the air-conditioned subway, which is spotless and odorless in the capital, a sign that the epic Rama was good thing of the past.

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