Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, celebrated every year around October and November. Recently my fellow Beadsmith Squaddie Jayashree Paramesh of Nchantme beading posted some pictures about this year’s festivities, and the photos brought back memories from my travels in India several years ago. Both of the journeys, especially the first one in 2010 together with my two best friends (my husband and my big sister) were eye opening. I realised how important it is to be perceptive and stay emotional.To live meaningfully it’s necessary to observe the world around us. To notice how beautiful it is, and also how cruel can it be sometimes.
I maintain a love and hate relationship with India. The beauty of Taj Mahal and the majestic Rajasthani forts leave me speechless. Riding a vivid Marwari horse and sleeping under the stars in the Thar desert are unforgettable adventures. The buzzing markets offering colourful silks and exotic spices attract me to join the crowd and wonder along the streets of Jaipur and Pushkar, then the atmosphere of the blue Goa coastline and the “Tibetan” city Dharamsala high up in the Himalayas slow me down and tempt me to stay there forever, just like the hippies who forgot themselves in the country for the last thirty something years.
But then, the peace and calmness is gone instantly as I exit the door of the guesthouse. I need to be alert. I have to watch my step so I don’t end up stepping into a pile left behind by one of the cows wondering the streets of the city, chewing on plastic and thrown away newspaper instead of fresh green grass. I have to say ‘no’ and shake my head for hundreds of times to the pushy taxi drivers until I finally get to the bus station. And I have to say ‘no’ to the kids maimed both mentally and phisically for a lifetime, shouting ‘rupee, rupee’, too.
After a long and bumpy ride on the ‘chicken bus’ I stretch my legs in Bundi, a small town out of the usual backpacker route. After a couple of unfair offers I put down my luggage in a tidy, comfortable room in a guest house run by a local family with three children. The mother brings some clean sheets, and the younger girl takes care of a refreshing drink. After a well-needed rest I explore the neighbourhood. I walk up to the long abandoned star shaped fort (which lent its name to the Tarak beaded bead) to admire the paintings on the walls of the palace, then I take the road to the upper fort heavily inhabited by monkeys. It’s like a scene from the Jungle book, and a bit later I find out that Rudyard Kipling himself lived and worked in the area for a while.
On the next day we hire a motorbike. Adam soon takes over the riding after I crash into the bushes. Luckily we survive with tiny scratches, but still have a long road ahead of us: 40 km-s through fields and villages with just a couple of houses, until we reach a fine line of water, collecting into a 36 m high waterfall. The water is calm and clean. We share the lake under the cascade with a 3 m long cobra resting between the rocks. We decide to watch him closely while he sunbathes peacefully, and he leaves us alone while we enjoy the cold water and the sun.
After returning to the city we find the ladies of the house all dressed up, and the girls lie out special Rajasthani clothes for me, too. Fortunately they help me to get into my garments, as I am not a hundred percent sure about the purpose of all the pieces. Besides my green nails acquired on an earlier train ride thanks to a little girl traveling in the same coupe I also get some eye shadows and red lipstick. The icing on the cake are a couple of bangles with rhinestones all around. My Diwali bracelet finished recently brings back the mood and style.
I am invited to take part in the celebration together with the family. I am with them in the special shrine dedicated to Lakshmi, the Hindu god of prosperity to ask for his blessing, and afterwards we enjoy sweet Diwali cakes together. They are made from sugar syrup, creamy milk and dried fruits. The house is full of lights: there are candles in the windows, on the stairs and on the desks all around. In front of the house we light up sparkles, and the mother carefully adjusts the sari of our Spanish friend, Erku.
It feels like Christmas celebrated far away, but still at home somehow.
You can find the tutorial for the Diwali bracelet here.
The Honeycomb Jewel beads used in the bracelet were a sponsorship gift of Beadsmith. Thank you very much!