Diwali Celebrations at Upasana

Diwali Celebrations at Upasana Design Studio

Diwali, the festival of light, is the biggest holiday of the year in a country that loves its holidays. Technically, it has Hindu roots — marking the homecoming of Ram after kicking some Sri Lankan booty — and is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains in variations on a theme of the triumph of good over evil. Practically speaking, it is as secularized as Christmas in America — a disappointing trend in both cases (but that’s another story).

It is not only celebrated widely, but poorly as well.

More experienced India-hands claim that, in the not-so-distant past, the holiday was an aesthete’s dream: hushed and lovely, the dark night of the new moon illuminated by countless small diyas (oil lamps) and candles.

This is but a distant dream in anyplace I’ve spent Diwali. Fireworks, firecrackers, and what can only be described as small bombs have displaced the humble, peaceful diya as the celebration-tool of choice. As a consequence, Diwali evening (the whole day actually) sounds as though all of India is under military attack. It is crude, gaudy, and loud. India’s premier festival has become a metaphor for the perverse decay of its aesthetic, moral, and spiritual traditions at a time of technological and economic ascension.

Naturally, it is the exceptions which help to prove the rule; and no exception is more exceptional than Uma Prajapati’s Upasana Design Studio — in the case of Diwali celebrations as in all things. Last night, the already gorgeous mid-forest campus of Upasana (designed by the infinitely talented Manoj Pavithran) was transformed into a spangly paradise of light. The festivities were enjoyed by hundreds from the Auroville and Pondicherry communities.

Diwali Celebrations at Upasana Design Studio

And when the party was over, we made a bee-line for home — our make-shift bomb-shelter — as the war games of Diwali played-out through the hard-fought night.


3 Responses to “Diwali Celebrations at Upasana”

  1. 1 millyonair 29 October 2008 at 6:37 am

    Breathtaking photos! I was reading about Diwali on the internet yesterday and I wondered what it was like to really be there. Sounds fascinating!

  2. 2 Louise Franke 7 November 2008 at 4:47 pm

    It’s even better than the beauty of the ceremonies to actually have your own beautiful Upasana silk scarf. Although I’m sure the evening was lovely, the scarves themselves show wonderful workmanship,and have the added benefit of inspiring generous and thoughtful behavior in others.

  3. 3 Lakshmi Mareddy 14 November 2008 at 9:01 am

    Mark have you noticed some similarities across the world, mostly related to winter time festivities.. Its the “lamp”. Ditto Halloween and Christmas.

    Diwali in the Hindu calendar starts the month of Scorpio or kartika masam. Until upto Jan 14th, end of capricorn month [as per true lunar astrology, not the anglicised versions], Hindus maintain a continuous flickering lamp outside their homes.

    If you were in medieval times, this would be a very welcoming and pretty sight in acute dark winter don’t you think?

    Dang the chinese for introducing firecrackers, and shivkasi for making it an industry.. :)

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