Yesterday was Dussehra, the Hindu holiday celebrating the victory of Rama, seventh avatar of Vishnu and protagonist of the Ramayana, against the ten-headed demon Ravana who had kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita. Neighborhoods around Delhi have street celebrations and burn giant effigies of Ravana and other demons.
Considerations about firework safety are pretty much nonexistent. Little children carelessly set off firecrackers along the pavement. Crowds huddle around a cannon then scuttle away just as fireworks emerge. The MC at our neighborhood event had trouble exercising control over a bunch of young men who interrupted the proceedings by setting off one mortar after another.
As you can probably tell from the abruptly shot video below, we were standing just a little too close to the first demon immolation.
By the fourth one, we had figured out the proper distance for observation.
The celebrations in for C Block of Lajpat Nagar also had a number of musical acts that preceded the show. One dancer in particular made an impression on me. He was Punjabi — the neighborhood of Lajpat Nagar has a sizable Punjabi community — but danced liked a whirling dervish wrapped in neon lights.