Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights in India, is celebrated based on the Lunar calendar, this year celebrated on November 5th. Everyone was invited to gather outside Phoenix Center and was welcomed with traditional Bindi’s (colorful stickers for the forehead) and Tikka (a red mark made on the forehead with a paste of Saffron Crocus that grows in India).
We began the celebration with a brief introduction of what Diwali entails, what the reason for its celebration is in India, and how it has some similarities to the festivals celebrated in Camphill communities. Once this introduction was given, along with instructions for the celebration, houses were asked to go to their designated spots within the semi-circular space just outside the bakery in the Phoenix Center to create traditional Indian Rangoli’s (colorful mandalas that are drawn on the ground with pavement chalk). Everybody seemed to have taken this task up very seriously, and the result was exceptional. The gray cemented space was now beautifully decorated with Rangoli’s in vibrant colors. As it was a chilly October afternoon, people also enjoyed some hot chai tea and Indian snacks.
Once warmed, we walked over to the field opposite the Phoenix Center and gathered around a bonfire to make contributions based on the theme of “light”. Some houses sang songs or read poems that described the inner light that would conquer the darkness of the winter. Some did eurythmy. Each house also sacrificed an object into the fire, which was a gesture of letting go of the past.
Soon it was time for the grand finale, as the sun set, painting the sky in shades of beautiful reds and purple, paper lanterns were lit, representing each house. The lanterns were set into the evening sky much to the amazement of the crowd that was left below. We closed the night by singing a song that described the essence of this Festival of Lights.