Diwali in Pietermaritzburg used to be such a special time, my mum or gran would wake us up early in the morning, massaging oil into our heads.The smell of sweet meats and diwali condiments would flood into our rooms just before we did our morning Diwali prayer. A few days before, mum would thoroughly spring clean the house.Furniture, doors and windows were are all obsessively polished.
Most people that
lived in Truro Road where already up by 8am in a festive mood talking
about plans for the evening. Neighbours of Truro road were
so tightly bound that everybody participated in religious holidays
whether you were Muslim during Diwali, Hindu during Christmas or Christian during Eid. Kids were deployed in a military fashion to
deliver carefully packaged sweet meats to neighbours. These sweet meat boxes were meticulosly compared by them in the process and while most kids cherished the day for the opportunity to traditionally dress themselves up and gleefully deliver
their sweet packages of diwali delight, my brother and I were mostly
reluctant and refused because our mum always wanted us to dress us alike,
which we thought was very dorky.
Almost every store in Pietermaritzburg tried to cash in on Diwali. From Ice Cream stores to clothing stores,from Supermarkets to Hairdressers, if they weren't selling fireworks, everybody had some kind
of Diwali special trying to make the most out of the day. (if they weren't selling fireworks!) Gift stores
in the Raisethorpe area, which is the thriving CBD of the Indian
community in Pietermaritzburg, converted their stores into complete fireworks wholesale businesses. There was something for everyone :- sparkles and pop ups for
the kids or fountains and roman candles that shoot screaming fireballs
into the air for the modest family that just wanted to do their bit to
light up the Diwali night sky. Then there were the more grandiose
fireworks from Mr. Suklall, a retired Policeman who lived next to the
sport field. He bought his fireworks from a specialist specialist dealer
and had an armoury that would make George W and his Weapons of Mass Destruction blush. Our old man was the Grinch who stole
Diwali. He never believed in buying fireworks. He
believes that there are better ways of burning your money.
Easels or flying ants as they are known, usually meant it was Diwali. They came out in
their thousands and the morning after, the pavements were littered with
their wings. I remember Diwali being usually very hot and every year
the heatwave brought with it a nagging drizzle that usually started at
about 5pm and persisted till about 8pm. Everyone had to
strategically place their clay lamps out of harms way so that they could
remain alight for the duration of the passing drizzle.
celebrated in years I look back at my years in Pietermaritzburg during
the festival of light with growing fondness. As sweets are exchanged on this occasion, Diwali usually means an
increase in mutual love among friends and relatives. To all those who I
haven't seen in years that are wishing me today, have a joyous and safe celebration.
One of the many reasons we celebrate is Diwali is the return of Rama after 14 years of banishment. On his return he was welcomed with a mighty display of fireworks. The video in this blog is an animated version of the epic Indian tale of Ramayana about Rams banishment set to the 1920's jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, it has a sympathetic perspective towards Sita.
deepavali prayer , Deepavli , divali , diwali , diwali prayer , happy deepavil , happy divali , happy diwali , pietermaritburg , raisethorpe , Ram and sita , Sita sings the blues , truro road