We have already had our Guy Fawkes’ Night here in Kakina. The Hindu community celebrated Diwali, the Festival of Light at the approach of winter, and we were guests at the Mandir, the Hindu Temple. It was nothing like the size that I was expecting because the Hindu community is quite small in Kakina. About 200 people were to attend the celebration that night. Although the temple was small, they made up for the lack of size by the sheer gusto of the celebration. As we approached the temple, the path was lined on both sides with votive lights. We were preceded by two censers blessing us with so much incense that on occasion I could not actually see where I was treading. The worshippers took pity on me and guided me along the path. This was part of the mystery of approaching the shrine.
We were then shown the representations of the goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and, I think, Parvati and it was explained to us that on Durga Puja, the day that we arrived in Bangladesh, the previous representations had been escorted to the river, so that they could float away on it. Diwali is the celebration of the unveiling of the new representations in a flood of lights. We were sat down for photos and, very appropriately, cameras flooded the sky with light as we ate our way through enough ghulab jamum to immobilise an elephant.
Our host, Rubel, then introduced us to the congregation and Irene was asked to make a speech. After that, we left the Mandir and came home as fireworks were being set off. The celebrations lasted all night.
A few days later, one of the celebrants came to the library with the Mandir’s Visitors’ book, and asked me to sign it which I was very pleased and proud to do.
It was a very special night. It was a night in which the community chose light, chose life, chose love. It was a night if hope. It was a night of joy. It was a night of celebration. It was a night that I will always remember with great affection. I was so pleased to be there.