I arrived in Kathmandu right before Diwali, a five-day festival of light. It’s the reason I stayed in Kathmandu for ten days – public holidays during the celebrations meant the processing of my Indian visa was to take much longer than usual.
One of the most important festivals on the Hindu calendar, Diwali is almost like Christmas in neighbouring India, and it’s almost as big in Nepal. It was an exciting time to be living in Kathmandu.
During Diwali, people place small lamps or candles outside their homes or businesses, creating a lighted pathway inside. Doing so invites in Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, ensuring her good blessings for the year ahead.
In Nepal, Diwali is a time for visiting family.
Children get together and visit nearby homes and businesses, singing and dancing for the inhabitants, who then gift them money.
On the fifth day of Diwali, brothers and sisters meet and exchange gifts and blessings and you’re likely to see anyone with a sibling walking around with a tikka dot painted on their forehead.
You’ll also see mandalas painstakingly painted onto the footpath and decorated with marigold leaves and chalk.
A mandala is a focus point for aspirations and it was from these mandalas that a trail of light often led into a shop or home.
On the fourth evening of Diwali, a friend and I decided to splurge on dinner at the Maya Cocktail Bar in the backpacker district of Thamel, to celebrate.
Mexican food, free cocktails and a safe vantage point from which to watch the procession of locals celebrating on the streets with firecrackers.
After dinner, we wandered Thamel’s maze of streets to look at the lights before the inevitable blackout.
Kathmandu has serious power issues and blackouts thanks to “power load-shedding” that happens at different times throughout the day – often leaving the city in the dark for up to a total of 16 hours.
On this particular evening, the lights stayed on fairly late, only going off when I returned to my guesthouse room. In fact, I almost didn’t notice.
Diwali is a wonderful time to travel in Nepal.
When I return (because Nepal is one of those places I know I’ll go back to many times in my life) I hope it’s again during Diwali or any other festival time. Read an overview of festivals in Nepal.
Note: In case you were wondering, the photos in this post were taken with my Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens, which I bought on a fun day out at Beijing’s camera market.
I’ve been really impressed with this lens, especially in low light situations like this – I highly recommend it. You can click on any image in this post to see a larger version or view more of my photos from Nepal on Flickr.