Diwali in Old Delhi

As I sit down to write this, on Diwali night, the  lights are twinkling all over our neighbourhood,   Delhi’s streets and skies  are erupting with fireworks that will build to an all-nighter of explosions. The  local children are shrieking, stray dogs are howling  and our own pups Spike and Mishti will be gibbering wrecks till morning. It’s going to be a long and noisy night but we’ll sit on the terrace and marvel nonetheless.

I think Diwali maybe one of my favourite celebrations.

Jain Temple, off Kinari Bazaar

With Diwali I get all the fun of Christmas but without (for me, at least) weeks of cooking and present-buying.  The past few days I’ve wandered around the Diwali displays in Khan and INA Markets, picked up beautiful candles to tuck away for Christmas, bought boxes of sweets and generally gawped at the wonderful colours, bustle  and excitement without having to worry about hordes of family and friends descending and needing to be fed. The perfect vicarious celebration.

A jewellery shop in Dariba Kalan

I even managed two impromptu trips into Old Delhi this week.  The first was  when Dean and I were overcome by cravings for Ashok and Ashok’s mutton korma and made a quick lunchtime dash.  I’d never seen Old Delhi at  Diwali time and it was stunning, the markets overflowing with decorations, idols, marigolds and festive food.


Then  last night,  on the eve of Diwali, we went back with a few friends to soak up the ‘festival of lights’ Old City-style and grab a few snacks.  We weren’t diasppointed. We stopped for fried potatoes and aloo tikki, chicken korma, jalebis, kebabs and shahi tukra.

As we made our way through the carnival atmosphere of Sitaram Bazaar and Kinari Bazaar,  marvelling at the inricate sugar sculptures, and giant barrels of roller ice cream, our  American friend Halle was beaming and shouting “I love this country”.    Me too.  Happy Diwali!


14 thoughts on “Diwali in Old Delhi

  1. For me, it was worth coming to Delhi even if just for a week, for Diwali… I absolutely love the festivities, the noise, the color, and sometimes, the traffic.. London never gets this festive at Christmas time or maybe I just like the noise of Delhi streets(the shopping streets do get really crowded !!!).. ooh and another great thing about Diwali is having all the sweets without the guilt.. great post and Happy Diwali 🙂

  2. Thanks Prashant – the other thing I love about Diwali is that unlike Christmas in London, the build up doesn’t start in August!

  3. I’m coming next year! Fireworks night here was such a wash out last night, torrential rain, the horrible wet kind all night.

  4. Happy Diwali!
    I agree, the problem with Christmas in London is that it starts so bloody early that by the time it comes, it’s not a sudden excitement any more…
    When you wait wait wait for the real festival, there’s more anticipation and all the celebration is concentrated into a few days rather than spread so thinly across months!

  5. Actually our neighbourhood fireworks were rather magnificent despite the rain! But I have to say I’m almost regretting finally signing up to your fantastic blog Pam, I’m thinking forget visiting our aging relatives in Oz, India here we come!!
    P.S What are the flowers pictured, are they Calendula (Marigolds)? Magnificent!

  6. Happy Diwali! I had my first Diwali in India last year in Bombay and was captivated by it. I spent a lot of time taking pictures on the streets of Mahim, tried my hand at rangoli and lit dozens of candles. Such a beautiful festival. I’ve put some pics up on my blog too x

  7. Amazing Write..Amazing Photos….
    And an even more Amazing “Festival of Lights” as it is called-Diwali
    HAPPY DIWALI to all 🙂 🙂
    Delhi-06 lukin beautiful.. Gr8 place to kno a Festival is round the corner nw, n fr all the Shopping too (Yep i did it ALL from there, n i HATE wen m not able to find sm of those Awesome eating places you’ve talked about:(
    LooooooVe the place..the Festival n ur superb Blog 🙂 🙂
    @Becc Yep, that’s Marigold (Genda-phool in Hindi), used vastly for decorating homes n also in the Pooja(prayers)

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