Diwali – a family favourite with treasured traditions
Flashback: A captivating scene from a pre-pandemic Diwali Motorcade
Flashback: A captivating scene from a pre-pandemic Diwali Motorcade

Growing up, there were three festivals that I was always anxious to celebrate – Easter, Mashramani and Diwali. However, this year, the festivities that I have grown accustomed to over the years were dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, much like last year, Diwali 2021 saw me spending the day in bed, unwinding and listening to music while I reflect on the celebrations of a pre-pandemic era; I have many beautiful memories.

On the eve of Diwali, my uncle would gather the entire family and somehow, we all managed to fit ourselves into his 15-seater minibus for an exciting journey to the Kitty Seawalls to catch glimpses of the spectacular Diwali Motorcade and light-up along the Rupert Craig Highway, East Coast Demerara.

One of my fondest memories dates back to when I was nine or ten years old; that’s when I realised that my family had its own Diwali traditions. It would entail scrumptious eatables, which were often loaded into the vehicle with water, juices and drinks.

I still remember my earliest Diwali celebration, which started the day before; I had just gotten home from a tiring day at school when my mother informed me that we were going out. To be very honest, my exhaustion prevented me from feeling any excitement whatsoever; all I wanted to do was shower and head to bed, but my family would not have it.

Of course, I was a little girl, so I had no choice but to follow the instructions given to me. I took a shower, got dressed in my best fit, a red long-sleeve shirt paired with blue denim jeans with a matching jacket; I’m sure I was a cutie.

Anyway, we left our lower East Coast Demerara home about two hours before the annual parade was slated to begin; it was important that we got a good parking space with a clear view of all the excitement. Despite the effort, we couldn’t find both. It took us 30 minutes to find parking, and another few minutes’ stroll to find a nice spot on the seawall where we could clearly see the floats.

After securing a spot it was time for the parade to begin. I stood on the Seawall like every other eager child to make sure no adult or person taller than me was blocking my view. With blinding lights of gold, pink and green, the first truck appeared on the highway creating a streak of light along the road, even the Atlantic Ocean appeared to have been glistening from the reflection of the lights.

Along with my cousins, I stood in awe as I experienced what was the one of the brightest nights of my life. The captivating sights made me forget about the tiredness I felt just a couple hours before. I was truly mesmerised by the motorcades, one after the other, sporting representations of Mother Lakshmi (the Hindu Goddess of wealth), and other depictions from Hindu scriptures ensconced amidst intricate designs and devotional music that dazzled the night.

Most of the floats were either positioned atop pick-up and canter trucks, or other makeshift carriers towed by vehicles.

But what truly made the night a spectacular one was the dancers and singers who accompanied some floats, moving to the rhythmic beat of the drums and music.

As the parade slowly came to an end, my cousins and I found ourselves graving more. Was it over already? Eventually, we gravitated towards lighting squibs and other firecrackers, which we know now, was not best idea.

Over the years, the motorcade became a major component of my family’s annual Diwali celebration. Unfortunately, over the past two years, the pandemic has forced us to spend Diwali on the inside.

As I write this piece, I crave to be on the seawall once again to see the lights and most importantly, to be surrounded by the people I love the most, laughing and savouring the festivities.


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