This was a big day for all of us. The Diwali holiday does not start for our children like Christmas starts for Western children – ours all had to go to school that morning! At 9 a.m., there they all were, 70+ kids in their uniforms, heading off to school to learn English, Math and Hindi. We could hear the children reciting their lines in the lovely sing-song tone that is so commonly heard in Indian schools.
To hear the children singing click on the play button below or visit, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDWJoYwb5_0
Once the kids returned from school, the fun started right away. Amy, Susan, and Kevin were ready with crafts and colors. Kevin taught the kids how to make a pair of sunglasses out of pipe cleaners, I helped the girls make jewelry out of pom poms, Amy applied fake tattoos, which were a huge hit, and Susan was busy with bubbles and a baby or two in her arms.
Shortly after, I was called away to Ranchi but the three Musketeers carried on throughout the afternoon. When I arrived back with more Diwali decorations, I could hear an entire drum corps going on in the shade. Sure enough, Kevin brought out several pairs of drumsticks and anything you could hit to make a tune.
Sanika, our handy-guy, was busy putting lights on the houses, and the housemothers were soaking the clay pots for the “lights” which included oil and a simple wick to burn from the roof of the houses. Amy, Kevin, and Susan were then busy taking videos of all the children with sponsors. These videos are a great resource to help sponsors see how their child is growing.
Diwali starts with sweets so we kicked off the evening with another ice cream party donated by Dawn. The kids were incredibly patient as they watied for their treat. Then we brought out the traditional Punjab sweets that were also popular at Diwali. Round balls of condensed milk and sugar, too sweet even for our American taste buds. Amy soon learned a new saying in Hindi “Phataka Futtaianga” which means “burst the crackers” which to us means “light the fireworks!” Kevin set up the show in empty Kingfisher bottles (thanks August Ambassadors!) while Amy, Susan, and the housemothers escorted the kids to their seats. We started with sparklers just like at home (ok not just like because they burn faster), but soon it is a mass of squealing, laughing kids and adults. Once the sparklers were finished, the kids once again took their seats and Kevin, Nanke, Anita, and Amy started the show. The show was slightly delayed when the matches would not light, so Amy kept the sparklers going non-stop until Kevin could light the incredibly short fuses on the bottle rockets. Then… BOOM! Immediately the kids let out oooooOOOOs and aaaAAAHHHs. Meanwhile Nanke and Anita were jumping around like the kids screaming “Phataka Futtaianga” and laughing so hard I thought their sides would split. I am sure the adults putting on the show had more laughs than the kids!
Just when we thought it must all be over, out comes the music and Saba, a shy but determined 8 year old girl, who got everyone dancing around the prayer hall.
Worn out and looking forward to a hot shower, the volunteers headed off to bed. Our Village was winding down but we could hear the sound of tribal drums throughout the countryside as other Diwali celebrations carried on throughout the night.