Lamplit Dreams

Diwali, the festival of Lights, the biggest festival in India. I celebrated Diwali this year in Benares upon the Ganges. And came away with a dream that will stay with me forever. Despite all the commercialisation of something so holy, a tangible something that remains long after the night is past, building into a trance-like dream of peace.

Lamplit Dreams

Our boatman
steers us to
the front row of the
spectator-participants
on the pensive water
that embraces the
setting sun.
The ochre
evening sky
gives way to
the night of
the new moon.
This festive night
is the beginning of
a new year,
a new life.

Fearless little
earthen lamps
hold the darkness
at abeyance,
standing in
cavalry rows
on the steps of
the ghats.
Tonight, Benares
welcomes the
Gods home.

Trickles of
the devout
arrive on
Dashashwamedh ghat,
the holiest of them
all. Priests of
every size of belly
converge upon
the crowd, now
a roaring torrent
surpassing the
mighty Ganges
herself.

Women bedecked
in brilliantly colored
sarees, arms covered
in gold and
glass bangles,
antique jewelry
worn for generations
adorning long necks,
bright vermillion
upon their foreheads,
gleaming hair in
snake-like braids
sensuously moving
with their gait,
tinkle-feet covered
in anklets of silver,
hardworking hands
bearing offerings to
the arriving Gods.

Their men, in
five-yard dhotis,
all white, off-white
or cream, pure silk
with a thin border in
gold thread
hand-worked in
the holy city, where
Gods dwell
cheek-by-jowl
with men covered
in sweat.

Excited children
with that rare
achievement
shining, clean faces
dressed in their
best, clutching
each others' hands
as they wade into
the river with
their parents,
the little ones
perched upon
stronger shoulders
or hips
that are slowly
beginning to curve.

Vendors with
their delectable fares
are soon sold out,
and more arrive
to take their place.
There is something
for everyone
tonight.

Somewhere in the
city's heart,
the first crackers
begin to go off.
A sadhu upon
the ghat
blows upon a
conch it is
the word of the
Supreme May the
festival of lights
begin.

Incantations and
incense compete for
airspace, and rare,
fragrant blooms
join in the
mindboggling fray.
Families gather in
the flowing waters,
little islands of people
clustered around
a priest.

The women set afloat
little lamps made
of leaves that twinkle
far in the night,
joining the stars in
their play. Offerings
of cloth and flowers
float past lazily,
tantalizing senses
with a display of
dazzling splendor
that the river has
just made.

Orange-yellow
lights in little green
stop by the banks
where the river is
dressing up
for her journey
to the sea.

The Gods
congregate at
a point on the
horizon where
all the flames
burn bright before
they die out,
carrying prayers
and wishes
from the hearts
of the faithful.

Overhead, the
first of the fireworks
breaks into
breathtaking beauty
of rainbow colors
in the sky. Soon,
many others
join the smoky
halo of the first,
and the black
is agog with
light and sound.

The boatman
begins to turn the
boat, nudging
his way through
the others before
pulling out his
oars. The
old boat slowly
finds her way
to the bank,
unwittingly
weaving herself
into my life.

Somewhere
in the lap of the Ganges
lie the sixteen years
I lost that day.
A wide-eyed
four-year old,
I let my parents
lead me home,
my spirit
firmly planted
in that
lamplit dream
of a night.





Poetry by Arti
Read 1087 times
Written on 2006-11-20 at 17:04

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stevelee
Very rare . A poem you can taste, see,smell, and hear without trying! tremendous write . Bravo Regards Steve
2006-11-22


Zachary P. B.
wow, arti.. if there is magic in this world, this is it. poetry, real moments in time.. great write here, i felt so a part of it.. wow.

z
2006-11-20


amandeep
amazing poem!
Somewhere
in the lap of the Ganges
lie the sixteen years
I lost that day.
A wide-eyed
four-year old,
I let my parents
lead me home,
my spirit
firmly planted
in that
lamplit dream
of a night.
Very nice written.
2006-11-20