India

Before the Fireworks

Dusshera_MG_1705October 23, 2012

Yesterday was Dusshera, Dashahara, Dashain (in Nepal) or Vijayadashami here in India and I had very high hopes of making it out to a traditional celebration.

Dusshera is a huge holiday; for some communities it’s a bigger deal than Diwali.  People return home to visit family, get haircuts, buy new appliances and, most importantly, they build giant 3-story sculptures out of straw, paper mache and fireworks and then set them ablaze at sunset.  It’s an event beloved both by Hindus and anyone in India who enjoys a good bonfire–namely, everyone.

Having never seen a real live effigy burning, I asked everyone from our housekeeper to my favored cellphone top-off vendor what to expect.  Huge chaotic crowds, a riot of burning embers, and giant fiery gods and demons falling on top of crowds of celebrating masses, was what they told me.  It sounded fantastic.  As well as a little bit insane.

Chris promised to take Will for the night so I could go out to take photos with one of our friends here, but it just wasn’t meant to be.  I packed my camera bag even as our friend had to bail and my stomach continued to flip flop from the effects of that bleach-less salad from the other night.  And then I felt my poor husband’s forehead.  Just a touch under the weather, but enough to make me drop my bags and stay home.

That’s life sometimes.  It’s the holiday season here now in Delhi, there will be many more celebrations to witness.

Instead of taking photos of blazing multi-story gods and demons, we wandered over to Khan market yesterday afternoon to check out a few of the effigies before the burning.  Though not the most exciting or perhaps truly authentic place to experience the build-up to Dusshera, it was still terrifying stunning to see exactly how huge even these so-called “touristy” effigies were before being set ablaze.

Dusshera_MG_1703October 23, 2012

Dusshera_MG_1699October 23, 2012

I checked out a few Indian newspapers this morning because it still boggles my mind that these towers of straw and paper-mache burn so close to so many buildings and people without incident, but no mention of injuries or causalities.  Or perhaps its sort of like the 4th of July in the US and it takes a pretty spectacular misfire for anyone to make the national news.  In any case, I found a few good photos.

I was not on my photog-ing game yesterday, but if nothing else, hopefully these shots convey just how darn tall these effigies (not even anywhere near the biggest in town!) truly were.

Dusshera_MG_1716October 23, 2012
Snacks for the festivities

Dusshera_MG_1704October 23, 2012
Political posters, kids dancing, the square was just beginning to fill up as we were leaving.

Dusshera_MG_1698October 23, 2012

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5 thoughts on “Before the Fireworks

  1. so cool! first thing i thought of was Burning Man – pretty cool that humans all around the world have the same concepts of a good time: build something and then burn it! lol.

  2. Oh how I’ve often had the same thoughts about leaving everything and heading out on my own to explore and take pictures, and how just the same they rarely (never) manage to happen. Just like at Loy Khrathong in Luang Prabang a few days ago. I so so wanted to capture everyone launching their candle and incense lit floats into the river, and to try and get the right exposure for the paper lanterns floating off into the night sky against the shining upturned faces of the people. Nope. Could not even get myself to selfishly ask my husband to stay holed up in dark hotel room listening to our two little ones snore and cough and stir at the slightest shuffle in the room (like I did one night while he explored the night market for only an hour). My heart just couldn’t do it.

    I still enjoyed your pre-festivities photos though and cannot imagine having it together enough amongst the giant inferno and crowds to try and do the same at the actual event. Looks like it would be somewhat terrifying.

    • It’s so hard when you want to go out but feel so guilty doing it! And yet, it’s no contest most of the time. Family first, photos later. Can’t wait to see more photos from Luang Prabang!

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