While walking out into the pitch-black street, there’s a distant chorus to be heard and bright lights line the dusty street. It’s Diwali, Festival of Lights, and candles stand like soldiers in a row, wicks flickering and bringing new life to the street. Coloured powders can be found on the ground at the thresholds of shopfronts, the powder intricately piled in patterns to create mesmerising, mandalas. Twirls of colour and flowery patterns signify a cycle of life. Some have been sprinkled with marigold petals and anointed with tea-lights.
The distant chorus can be heard again; the sweet sound of local children singing “wa-la-li, wa-la-li!” They sing in front of shop vendors, seeking approval in the form of a rupee that may or may not be spared. Many vendors opt to listen contently and beam bright smiles.
Candle wax drips onto the street and on staircases leading upwards to restaurants and bars. The children’s chanting reaches fever pitch; these same children now adding rhythmic clapping to their repertoire for a more demanding effect.
As we wander back to our lodgings, we can still hear the intense bellowing of “wa-la-li!” in the distance. This lasts well into the night and long after we retire to bed, as if the children are beckoning our return.
Diwali in Nepal is a special time for many families. You can also read about my Diwali experiences while my visit to India here.