Happy Diwali, Guria followers! Diwali- the celebration of Ram’s triumph over Ravan, of the return of truth and wealth, and of lighting hundreds of diyas- was technically on November 3rd. Although the actual festival was not for a few days, Diwali festivities at the Guria center were in full swing by October 31st. Our celebration included a dinner of soft drinks and fried rice prepared by some of the older girls, fireworks, and the much anticipated judgment of the center’s annual Diwali decorations competition.
Staff, interns, and children alike, the Guria community was split between the Non-Formal Education Center’s two buildings. Each team was tasked with decorating their building as they chose, and each was determined to do anything possible to win the competition. For a full week leading up to the party, both buildings were abuzz with rangoli-making, sand-painting and paper-chain cutting. After a few days of heated competition, several groups of interns visiting Banaras were invited to join in the Diwali celebration and to decide by anonymous vote which of the two buildings had superior decorations. The new building, with dozens of paper lanterns and a spectacular clay model of the Ganga-ji, beat the old building by a narrow margin; but any hard feelings were forgotten as both teams laughed and cheered on the rooftop, together enjoying our jaw-dropping firework display in the Banaras night sky.