November 15, 2004


I went up to the Neasden Mandir for Diwali this year, for the third year in a row. I have been for the fireworks before but had never realised there were further celebrations the next day. These celebrations involved cueing for about and hour and a half to get into the actual temple. I was one of three white faces in a sea of middle class Indian people. Men and women were separated.

I am more at ease with Hinduism that Islam, though I have enjoyed filming with the guys in Finsbury Park. Hinduism is not a converting religion, and so people gave us the feeling that they were pleased that we were interested, happy to answer questions and proud of their temple rather than trying to convince us that their way was superior to anyone elses.

No one spoke to me at first, but after I broke the ice a bit we were soon laughing at the difference between Diwali here and in India where people are more likely to aim fireworks at each other and joyful pandemonium reigns.

I remember once coming out of the Parvati valley with friends who were moving charas over Diwali. They thought that during the festivities the Police were more likely to be caught up with other things.(When we got on the bus we found every other passenger was moving charas with the same idea.)

I was coming up on acid as we waited for the bus. Within minutes we had to run for cover as fireworks came at us from across the river. We managed to duck into a nearby shop and buy handfuls of rockets which we were soon lining up along the rocks and firing back. As dusk was falling we went back to the shop to reload twice. The shopkeeper was very happy. As we left, we waved goodbye to our opponents across the river. There had been no casualties though the roof of one of our opponents shops had briefly caught fire.

Hindu's are justly proud of Neasden Mandir. The interior is without doubt the most amazing structure in London. It was carved piece by piece in Mahabalapurum, the stone carving capital of South India in stone shipped from Bulgaria and Italy. I always have an amazing feeling of peacefulness take over when I am inside.

As there were so many people we were politely herded through and into a room where a guiness world record number of sweets had been accumulated. Someone gave a talk in Hindi and a candle was passed around. As we were herded out I went past a large door which a vision of beautiful Indian women were pouring out of in their best saris. Wow.

Happy Diwali!

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