KARACHI, Nov 13: Suddenly the evening had become brighter than the sunny afternoon. Dusk was nowhere to be experienced on Tuesday. It didn’t matter if the sun had disappeared into the Arabian Sea. The blue light bulbs on the façade of the Swaminarayan Mandir on M.A. Jinnah Road created quite a beautiful contrast with the yellow ones lit inside the building. The festivities of Diwali had already made their presence felt.
At 7pm or a bit later, worshippers (men had their heads covered with a saffron cloth) entered the temple to start off the proceedings with the aarti ritual. Some of them touched the floor as a mark of respect before setting foot inside the holy place. It took not more than a half an hour to perform the aarti, men and women gathering around the deities, singing devotional songs.
The images of the baal roop of Lord Krishna and Yashoda mayya on the circular high ceiling of the mandir added grandeur to the whole scene.
Once the aarti was over, worshippers, particularly young men and children, dispersed in different corners of the temple and took out the firecrackers they had long been waiting to set off.
“People from all parts of the city come to this mandir to celebrate Diwali. It’s an old temple. If you think the number of people is already high, wait for a couple of hours. This place will be chock a block,” said Maharaj Bekhat Lal, a worshipper and regular visitor to the temple.
The fireworks kicked off on a temperate note when only things such as phuljharis (hand-held sparklers) were burnt. Children flocked to the area. And then the entire area boomed with the deafening sounds of the bigger crackers. No one felt scared or frightened. Even the toddlers wanted to join in the fun. But teenager Yash Chandan, who was thoroughly enjoying himself with his Muslim friends, hurt his hand. “My right hand got burnt. I did not move away in time while letting off a cracker and it exploded.”
Yash told Dawn that there were different kinds of firecrackers. “There is anaar (which twinkles with a buzzing sound and lights up the air for a few second). There is China-bomb and there is also the Butterfly.” What’s the last one? “It goes into the air and opens out like a butterfly spreads it wings. However, it’s the Disco Bomb that makes the loudest noise.”
This was seconded by Anil who had a kiosk outside the temple where he sold all kinds of firecrackers. “The Disco Bomb booms like anything.”
To the right of the temple, there was a big open space on which fireworks were taking place without fail. Every now and then either a Rocket zipped into the skies or an anaar twinkled like a constellation or a Disco Bomb went off with all its might.
Some senior citizens had set their minds on the religious aspect of the day, like the middle-aged Valji who works at the KPT and had come from afar to pay his respects to the gods. “I enjoy the colourful part of it, but I’m here to pray.”
Forty-something Govind had arrived from Ranchhore Lines. “You must go to the Kathiawari Mandir in Ranchhore Lines. They have decorated it beautifully,” he enthused. The reason he was at the Swaminayaran temple was because his elder brother wanted to be there. And both looked happy and contented.
The girls were not behind either. While some of them relished the prasad, others busied themselves with the phuljharis and anaars.
The darker the night looked, the brighter the festivities became. People kept pouring into the temple compound, each wanting to light a diya or be a part of the fireworks that was illuminating the Karachi city skyline.Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama to his capital Ayodhaya after completing his 14-year-long exile in the woods. Residents of Ayodhaya had lit earthen lamps in their houses to express their happiness and to celebrate his return.