In the month of October I took a trip to New Delhi for five days. A good friend once described Delhi to me like Washington, D.C. And once i reached there, I too, felt as though Delhi was the Indian version of the American capital. There were many government buildings, lots of well maintained green space, and a bustling city all in one. I enjoyed my five days in Delhi–saw the amazing India Gate and the beautiful Jama Masjid mosque. I even got to see Mahatma Gandhi’s grave site, (upper right) and it was one of the most peaceful places I have been to. I also did the most shopping ever in my life on this trip. There was one outdoor market that we spent the entire afternoon in and bargained all day while seeing all different types of clothing. I liked the hustle and bustle of Delhi, but actually ended up missing the relaxed and calm nature of Jodhpur that I had already grown to love. At the end of the five days, I had decided that Delhi was really only a city good for visiting, and living there just wasn’t my cup of tea. Or should I say chai?
Diwali was the first major Indian holiday I celebrated in India. Diwali is known as the festival of lights because every night for four to five days, every family puts ‘dias’ (similar to candles) inside and outside their homes or decorates with some type of bright lighting fixtures. And there are always fire- works. Always. So for a solid week, there were lights on every store front and candles in all our neighbor’s houses. Jodhpur was completely lit up.
In order to prepare for Diwali, everyone first cleans their entire house, and when I say clean, I mean literally go through every single corner of the house and clean. This is in preparation of having various family members and guests come to the home for different programs. Culturally, the Diwali festival is a time to pray and offer pooja to Mother Laxmi–the god- dess of wealth. But in addition to prayer, Indian families open their homes to each other, give each other gifts, and essentially share their wealth with each other.
I really enjoyed Diwali because I had the opportunity to meet so many of my host family’s extended family, it reminded me of holidays in the U.S. when all the family would come together and enjoy. Experiencing Indian holidays was about more than their culture, but about appreciating the family and bonds they shared with each other. I was honored to even be a part of it.