On the prompt “Lantern”
I was sitting in front of my laptop, early in the morning, staring at today’s prompt “lantern” (from the 31-day prompt challenge); it brought a smile on my face, opening a link in my brain, the way under-linked words do on any article or on Wikipedia.
My friends and I had just launched our sky lantern, bidding it a farewell. The blackish-bluish-orangish skies were dotted with colorful paper sky lanterns soaring away higher and higher, the candles at the base staying miraculously lit. They were looking like cute miniature hot air balloons, happy to be flying away. It was the third day of Diwali, well actually the crack of dawn, being around 5 am. The entire Saras Baug (a park in my city)was crowded, literally every inch with people chattering away as if it were a busy Monday morning. Youngsters were busy decorating the park with diyaas (butter lamps), their creativity running wild.. creating elaborative designs.
That’s the festival of lights, Diwali, also my favorite. It is basically a plethora of colors, lights, lanterns, and everything nice. Literally every house in the country glows with lanterns and diyas, the smell of the butter lamps wafting through the doors. It’s as though the whole country is alight, sparkling, and blazing as if on fire.
The fest is an absolute favorite since I was a kid, looking forward to wearing fancy new clothes, lighting lamps, attempting to draw rangolis (colored powder used for drawing designs on the floor) which usually turned out to be a mess — Mum redrawing it again. In school, we used to make the paper lanterns as an exercise in drawing class, before running off to the long Diwali vacation, waiting to burst the firecrackers and shooting rockets.
It’s a four-day-long fest, each day symbolizing some significant event from Hindu Mythology. The preps start almost two weeks before, spring cleaning every nook and corner of the house. Kitchens are bustling with all the ladies cooking mouth-watering special Diwali savories and sweets, the tantalizing smell making you eat all day. People shop left, right and center, from buying gold to clothes to boxes and boxes of sweets.
Being a community festival, it is celebrated with pomp, splendor, and grandeur, with everyone, gathered together; friends, family, neighbors, close relatives, and not so close relatives, distant relatives…well you get the gist! Almost every living soul I think, frolicking for those four days. On the first day everyone gets up at 4:30 am, bathe (which I skipped quite often) and light the first cracker(usually a very noisy one )in the sleepy society to wake everyone up. But my neighbor usually bet us each year — to be the alarm clock of the entire society. Though eventually, I stopped for eco-friendly reasons plus I simply outgrew them.
The front porches lightened up with diyas, balconies boasting of colorful paper lanterns, fairy lights blinking away on the walls from outside, enlightening the entire building and bungalows— it’s indeed a sight to behold. There’s a lot of liveliness and the much-needed togetherness.
The festival of lights is celebrated roughly around November; the dates decided by the Hindu calendar which is based on the phases of the moon. According to Hindu mythology, it is celebrated in the name of Lord Rama who defeated the demonic king Ravana and returned with his wife, Goddess Sita brother Lakshmana, Lord Hanuman back to his hometown Ayodhya after a 14 year long exile. The entire story of Lord Rama took place roughly 869000 years ago in the BC era. ‘Ramayana’ one of the largest ancient epics in world literature, is written by the ancient Sage Valmiki, and is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, consisting of nearly 24,000 verses. There are multiple versions based on the regional diversity.
The fest symbolizes the power of good over evil, of hope against despair, of light over darkness, and so does the lantern flying away in the sky — against gravity — illuminating me to fly with passion against all odds and obstacles.
Here’s the link of one more Illuminator, Amy Marley’s haiku on Lantern.
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