Traditional Diwali Celebrations in Jodhpur

As the capital of Rajasthan Jodhpur is a pretty busy city and while it’s not as crazy as Delhi it’s still buzzing with activity.

It’s been hectic over the past few days and every time I try to write a post I get about two paragraphs completed before I’m in a conversation with another traveller, or having to move on and stop writing. We actually left Jodhpur on the 20th to head to Jaisalmer but that warrants a post in itself, as does our evening in Jodhpur where we celebrated Diwali. Everything is just moving so quickly and changing so rapidly that I hope I can still remember all the details of each place before they’re replaced by newer experiences.

When we left Jaipur on Friday it was another early morning after a few hours sleep. We walked to the station in a daze and made our way to the platform for our train. Our tickets for this train were in a lower class but the train was quite new so it was more comfortable then the last. We also booked the bottom bunks so we could store our bags underneath rather than sleep around them. The early start combined with the rocking motion of the train meant both of us managed to catch up on some sleep for almost the whole five hours too.

When we arrived we decided to walk to the hostel so that we could see the area surrounding it and get a feel for the city. There was definitely a different energy in the air to other cities we’ve been to and most people we passed in the small streets welcomed us with a smile and wished us a happy Diwali. We passed all sorts of shops and came near the main market which we later visited once our bags were safe at the hostel.

Jodhpur Market Gate
Mark walks through Jodhpur Market

The hostel we stayed at is called BedPool (a play on the Marvel character Deadpool) and seemed similar to most hostels we’ve been to so far with bright coloured walls and common rooms. It was nice to have a private room booked for the night as it meant we could leave our bags wherever and didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone when we had to leave the following morning. When we arrived we were told that the owners were going to host some traditional Diwali celebrations with a home cooked meal followed by fireworks, which sounded great to us.

Traditionally people wear new clothes for Diwali and we had nothing nice to put on seeing as all of our clothes were dirty and creased. We decided to go back to the market for a wander and buy some bits which would be more suitable to wear. I found myself a new skirt and trousers (which I realised I paid too much for when they ripped that evening) that I thought would be suitable for both the heat and the dress code. During our walk there was definitely less pressure to buy from shop owners, though one guy practically showed us his whole three story building of fabric before he presented a folder of magazine cutouts about his business. I’m still not sure what he was expecting from us as I’m pretty sure we don’t look like the type of tourists who want to ship fabric in bulk back to the UK.

Jodhpur Market
Abigail takes a photo in Jodhpur Market
Jodhpur Market
Jodhpur Fabric Warehouse

Back at the hostel we started to get ready for our evening, taking showers and making ourselves much less like smelly travellers and a bit more like human beings.

The evening began with what I think was Lakshmi Puja where the owners prayed to their gods for wealth, prosperity and a good year ahead. The hostel owners delegated the responsibility of taking all the photos for the evening to Mark as he had his camera around his neck, so we have quite a few photos of the whole evening. After the prayers the owners went home for food with their families and also to collect food for the guests at the hostel. Everyone hung out with a few drinks and I snuck off to sew up the embarrassing hole which had appeared in my new clothes. It was a few hours before everyone returned but the food was worth the wait.

Traditional Diwali Celebration
Abigail receives a blessing
Mark receives a blessing
Kalava thread to ward of Evil

We had a homemade dhal and curry, along with chapatis and some vegetables and it was so delicious. The lady who cooked some of the food showed us how she eats chapati (not by simply dipping it in the sauces) and made sure we had more food than we could possibly eat. It was a really nice way to spend the evening and we were really grateful that they had made the effort to share their traditions with us.

Rooftop terrace at Bedpool, Jodhpur

After the food it was time for sparklers and fireworks, which signify the celebration of Diwali while also scaring off ‘evil spirits’. I don’t know about the evil spirits but the fireworks they were using definitely scared us. Lighting them in the street in front of the hostel the fireworks were so loud and people were still trying to drive along the street at the time. It was fun lighting a few fireworks but I did manage to throw some in front of a guy on a motorbike who just had to let them explode in front of him. Whoops!

Fireworks over the Amber Fort in Jodhpur
Lighting Fireworks for Diwali
Lighting Fireworks for Diwali
Lighting Fireworks for Diwali
Lighting Fireworks for Diwali
Lighting Fireworks for Diwali
Lighting Fireworks for Diwali

The celebrations went on all night until around 4am we’re told, which sounds about right because there were still some going off when we were walking to the train station at 4:30am. It was a relief to get away from the explosions and onto a train but much like the last place it was hard to leave new friends who we’d just started getting to know.

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