The holiday in many ways reminds us of Christmas. Colorful lights are hung everywhere outside - in town centers, on buildings and temples. We put up our own - out on the balcony. Gifts are exchanged between friends, neighbors and loved ones. Candles and lamps are lit in the evening to light Lakshmi's way - the goddess of prosperity - to your doorstep.
Since this is a festival to share with friends we tried to jump right in! Last night we had some of our good neighbors over for snacks and chai. We exchanged simple gifts, our kids played, we all chatted and ate cake and namkeen and Indian sweets!And, oh yes, there is plenty of food during Diwali! Leading up to Diwali, the markets were filled with vendors making special gift packages and baskets. Special Indian sweets are prepared for sale in sweet shops.For days leading up to the festival, fireworks (known as "crackers" here) are constantly heard going off in the distance. This is our first Diwali here in India. I think our whole family agrees that this festival of light is a very accessible, joyous and heartfelt occasion!