Sometimes simplicity works as the best way to get the message across. That's one of the many reasons why I love the Ramayana. The Ramayana has it all laid out in a straightforward way, at least as possible in this complicated world. Rama = Good guy, Ravana = Bad guy and there are minimal shades of gray in this great epic unlike the infinitely more complicated Mahabharata which is peppered with flexible morals and opportunistic strikes from both sides which do not leave the best taste in the mouth. Above everything else, it gives us an excuse to celebrate what in my opinion is the most lively Indian festival of them all, a time when the night comes alive.
The sweets, the shopping hordes, the typical burnt odour of exhausted fireworks, the whistling rockets, the echoes from the 'sutli' bombs going off in the city's farthest neighbourhoods, the flashing multi-coloured bulbs and the diyas and the millions of shreds of paper strewn across the central courtyard next morning where firecrackers had once been - are essential to the Diwali experience and memory lane sees a major traffic jam on days like this. Even 7500 miles away, there is a bubbly kind of optimism on this day, as though something good is bound to happen. It is not a feeling shared by the majority of the people surrounding us here because for Americans it is just another day. It is actually snowing in Boston today, just a day after Diwali. Its impossible to imagine how much more different the scenario could be from back home. Yet calls and wishes circulate around the Indian junta to whom this day is of significance. It's a day for seeking hope, strength and joy in the knowledge that it takes only a little flame to chase away the most ominous darkness.