In Felicity the festivities center along a long street and things get going around 7pm. Even though all the deyas were not placed and lit when we arrived at 6:30pm, this was a great time to get there as we easily found a good parking spot at one end of the main strip. The atmosphere was charged with anticipation, with people already walking around. All the homes on the strip were open and beautifully decorated with flambeaux, coloured electric lights and deyas displayed in the yards. The street itself had lights arching over it adding to the festive spirit.
We made our way to the opposite end of the strip where one of the many open mandirs, Shree Shankar, caught our attention. Leaving our shoes at the door, we were greeted by friendly devotees who took the time to explain many intricacies of their faith and the meanings of the murtis that were prominently displayed.
Back out on the street, an hour later, we were surprised at the number of people that were now walking around. There were small groups of tourists toting cameras and some people were dressed to the nines in beautiful Indian wear. The deyas that lined the sidewalks were now lit and the flickering lights were beautiful and mesmerising. The sounds of fireworks that residents were letting off and “fun snaps” that little children were bursting on the ground mixed seamlessly with excited chatter from the crowd. A line of cars slowly drove through the street and passengers were gazing out enjoying the sights and sounds. A tassa group was stationed on part of the sidewalk and we paused amongst a small crowd to enjoy the rhythm while sipping on corn soup.
We ended our night lighting deyas in a small park. The deyas were placed on bamboo bent into various shapes, two of which were shaped into words. There was not a huge crowd in the park so we were able to light as many deyas as we wanted. Even the Minister of Works and Transport who is also the MP for Chaguanas, Jack Warner, visited this park to light deyas!
This was really a community event and for the entire night, the residents’ graciousness made us feel welcome. We were all given prasad (this was the third set we received that night), which is an Indian sweet and one of my friends was even given a container full of curry. I enjoyed the night, as it was definitely a different experience.
If you have never gone out of your area to participate in Divali, I suggest visiting the town of Felicity next year! And in the mean time, enjoy the beautiful lights, sounds, tastes and festivities of the Christmas season!