Just like any other finals week?

No. Not at all.

I’m officially done with the “class” aspect of this semester, so the past week was putting together final projects, my Hindi exam, and the final preparations for ISP. I’m currently writing this post from my ISP site in Ranchi, Jharkhand, but more on that later.

Last week started with a bang – literally. It was the beginning of the week-long celebration of Diwali, and also Halloween. We had our own celebration at the program center, where we carved pumpkins and hung out.

The festivities begin!

Jaipur has been very great – I have most certainly enjoyed my time here. My family is wonderful, I really like my friends, and the classes have been engaging. But as a city? I’m not a huge fan of Jaipur. It’s very hot, crowded, and … eh. Honestly, it’s just time for a change-up. So rather than focusing on tests and exam scores, I ended up focusing almost entirely on the proposal for my Independent Study Project.

AND! It was Diwali!

Ok, so Diwali is one of the biggest national holidays in India. Think of it like a week of madness, a huge combination of Christmas (except Hindu) and the Fourth of July (except not American, and multiply the fireworks by about 1 million).

It’s a big deal. Preparing to go off on ISP, going to parties with the family, taking my Hindi final exam, everything all happening at once, it was absolutely nuts.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the festival:

My host sister Prachi making a peacock design with colored sand.

 

I painted this one. Love it with the lamps.

My other host sister, Neha, painted this one.

Diwali is a celebration of the return of Ram, and so all the lights and fireworks are basically a big welcome to this God who went into exile and vanquished the demon king Ravana. It’s also important to Jainism and Sikhism, but for different reasons. In Jain religion, Diwali commemorates the attainment of nirvana by Mahavira. For the Sikhs, Diwali marks the return of a very important guru who had freed 52 Hindu kings from imprisonment by the Lord Jahangir. All three religions use lamps and fireworks to remember the important figures and to celebrate the various victories of the holy people and gods.

Dhataji watches the fireworks.

Happy Diwali! Blog post coming soon about the ISP and traveling alone in India. Till then – phil milenge!

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