Diwali celebrations in Sydney, Australia and in Manhattan, NYC. SJ Dodgson MJoTA 2013 v7n2 1007
On the last day of Oct 2010, I flew from New York City home to Australia, which meant I arrived in Sydney in Nov 2, just as the Indian Festival of Lights was starting.
My brother Charles Dodgson and sister-on-law Lulu Dodgson took me to a far suburb of Sydney which has a tradition of celebrating Diwali spectacularly.
Charles came out of light and fire, he was born after a beach barbecue and fireworks that my
father put on for my other brothers and myself, which sent my mother
into labor. He did not wait until his curly blond hair darkened to start traveling to India: he was 19 when he started his first trip that took him throughout India and border countries. I always hold my breath when I think how he passed Ramadan at the Khyber Pass and happily wandered into Afghanistan when the Russians were at war.
And there I was in Sydney in 2010, my first visit after 21 years, completely shell-shocked after 6 weeks investigating death in childbirth in Nigeria and Sierra Leone, followed by 6 weeks battle in Brooklyn against Nigerians who referred to me as "white trash", landing in Sydney that had no resemblance to the Sydney I knew as a student. The buildings had changed. The people had changed. I only heard Asian languages spoken in the streets and supermarkets.
Did not take long before I was profiled. I traveled to Canberra to visit another brother, Patrick, and was stopped and searched in a pharmacy. I had been looking at the machines and drugs available for sale and I was staring. Glucose monitoring kits. Pregnancy kits. Over the counter drugs. So many of them. I was wearing a black cocktail dress and jewelry. I later discovered that a wife of a member of parliament had been caught shoplifting. I wonder if I looked like her.
The festival of light is all about renewal, harvest festival. The same time of year as Guy Fawkes Day, the celebration of which precipitated Charles' birth. The Jewish festivals of Hanukkah and Christmas festival of Yule are all about light and hope too. The festival officially in 2013 started Nov 3, but Manhattan celebrated it 4 weeks early. Which means I get to wish everyone Happy Diwali for at least a month. I like that.
Pictures from the festival at Manhattan's South Street Seaport on Oct 6 2013 below.