It’s Giveaway Time

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Update: The winners of the Amex cards are: Puja, Shriya, Anju, Yashaswini, & Bharavi. You will be hearing from us via email.

Keeping with the festive spirit, the folks at American Express are sharing their Diwali Gift Cards with us. Five of you have a chance to win this special card worth $50 featuring an image of a Diya.

To win, all you have to do is leave via the comments section your favorite Diwali memory.

Contest is open to U.S. residents only and ends on Oct 22nd 11:59pm Eastern after which we’ll pick five winners.

P.S. This time we’ll be approving all comments as we receive, so be sure to leave your personal email only in the email section.

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  1. My most favorite memory is my dad carrying me on his shoulder so I could place diyas all around the compound at our house:) then we would light the first sparkler together.

  2. I came to the USA in August 2009 to start my MS. It was the first Diwali away from home, but I really wanted to stick to my traditions. I made a li’l akashkandil too out of newspaper, but the housekeeping took it down.
    So on the Lakshmipujan/Narakchaturdashi day, I got up at 5 am, had Abhyangasnaan and was trying to prepare a nice meal for the day before leaving for college. It was evening in India, and just about time for Lakshmi Puja at home. So my mom and dad came online. We skyped while I was cooking with a towel on my head, the laptop being on the kitchen platform. I saw my parents finish the puja. I called them again after some time. My dad broke down and said that they both were so proud of me, away from home, trying in my own little way to keep up traditions. They were extremely proud of me. Although I was so far away from home, that diwali became a lovely sweet(a li’l sour) memory for me.

  3. I love sweets.My mom would not let me eat any sweets before Pooja so I would steal Mithais. The best part is lighting the diyas. Everything about DIwali is beautiful. Fire crackers, aww I miss home :(

  4. Favorite Diwali Memory – Getting to wear the new outfits that my mom designed and had our family tailor stitch over the summer for me. We would shop for fabrics in new colors and textures and find patterns which our talented tailor – Babu Kaka – would then turn into one of a kind suits. I could hardly wait till Diwali came around to show them off. Looking back now, it was such a luxury, bespoke clothes, made just for you! Does not happen here in the U.S.:(

  5. (2006) First Diwali celebration in US – Cooked delicious sweets and savories with bunch of friends together for entire day prior to diwali..gulab jamun, gujiyas, gajar halwa, sakaar pare etc it was first experience for all of us being a novice in cooking but we did great job. On diwali we all did Puja together, dressed up in traditional attire, traveled together in public transportation for 2 hrs one way to see “DON” :-)

  6. My favorite memory of Diwali is getting up early to bathe and eat breakfast with my grandparents. My grandmother would make a huge feast with home made sweets and savories. My grandfather is now deceased, and being far from home reminds me of how precious those times together were.

  7. Favorite diwali was when my school friends came to my home, one of them touched my dad’s feet to ask for blessings. I was impressed; he is my husband now :).

  8. My fondest diwali memories include going to market on diwali afternoon to buy Ganesh Lakshmi, helping mom in preparing for the pooja and dressing up in the brightest new clothes. This used to be followed by fireworks in neighborhood and later in the night everyone packing in cars and going to India gate for ice cream. Even typing this made me nostalgic…..
    Wishing everyone Shubh Deepawali.

  9. My family still believes in lighting ‘deeyas’ all around the house…still have that picture fresh in my mind…for about half an hour the whole house would lit up like a royal palace.. :-) It was a very special Diwali exactly 13 years ago today…yes.. 19th October 1998…I met my ‘husband’ for the first time…and we got married on the 28th of the same month. Sounds scary now…and I don’t know how I did it, but we are firm believers of ‘Destiny’…and believe that everything in life happens for a reason. Anyways, a new chapter in my life…began on DIWALI.

  10. My favorite Diwali memory is a mix of sadness +happiness. My brother and I were lighting firecrackers just by ourselves on a visit to India, we were aged 8 and 10 respectively. My brother, with his curiosity for all things sparkly, lit a pencil (these are available only in India I believe) too close to his face and out of nowhere, it blasted, right in his face! He was crying and screaming that he was going blind. My family and I were really scared and hoping he would be alright. After giving him a quick eye wash, it turns out he was fine after all and he started laughing about it. Seeing him smile even after his scare lit up our faces as well. He was being really strong and such a good sport. Diwali for us that year was not only a festival but a personal memory as well. I truly felt the essence of Diwali where our inner strength is celebrated.

  11. Being a non Hindu, every Diwali I would look forward to going to my Gujarati cousin’s house for the holidays..

    I would get really homesick but thinking of the sweets and goodies would cheer me up always!

    And of course the best part besides the crackers, was the money! Every house we visited, I would get at 10 or a 20 from the host, and by the end of the season I had almost 1000 which is a lot for a 10 yr old, 12 years ago!

    Diwali makes me feel young again, and I yearn to go back to my cousin’s place, but not for the money this time!

  12. Diwali memories for me is family time…I always made it a point to have one and all gathered at my grandparents for a grand diwali dinner..followed by crackers..and night long rammi sessions.But the best memory is when I gifted my grandparents a car for Diwali when I first started working:)Even thou they are not with me anymore but I’m sure they are proud of who I am today.
    Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year to all:)

  13. My favorite memory is me and my cousins eating sweets all day and playing. The next day we would laze around and have the leftovers.

  14. Fighting with my sisters to snatch the bigger Rangoli spot outside our house (they always won). Being the youngest, I got the smallest spot but I busted my ass to make my design look just as good as theirs. It seems petty but fighting for that spot became such a tradition that after they moved out to go to college, making that Rangoli wasn’t as much fun anymore.

  15. My favorite Diwali memory would have to be the Diwali pooja where mom would repaint a part of wall and paint Laxmi ji on it. I would help her in decorating the pooja place with diyas, candles, flowers and lights. Also we used to have a big ghee diya which had to be lit the whole night. So, we would take turns to keep an eye on it. My grandmother would collect soot from the diya onto a silver plate and make kohl out of it for the entire year (believe it or not!).

    • My mom would do that too! With the soot, I mean. And because I was never much into kohl as a kid, she shared her excitement with my brother (who could be talked into anything). So this guy would roam around with kohl in his eyes the entire rest of the week!

  16. My most memorable diwali would be: I went to Sydney as a student and it was diwali time, so as diwali was getting over i was flying out on new journey of my life on the new year.. so that was my last diwali with me entire family cousins and everyone in India, i wasnt even sure when I would be seeing them next and its 5 years now and I still havent seen them, since when i left india, i started missing everyone with each passing diwali so i would definitely say my last diwali in india with my entire family which is quite huge was my most memorable one.. I still dont know when will i see them next..

  17. I have a huge sweet tooth and I wasn’t allowed to lay my hands on the Ladoos made for the diwali pooja until after the pooja was over….as a 9 year old I remember opening the fridge eating a large number of ladoos while mum and nanima took their afternoon naps and then using my intelligence after I had finished I began mashing up all the ladoos that remained and clumsily re-shaping them into smaller ladoos so they would add up to the original number!

    And yes I did think my mother wouldnt find out! But oh find out she did!

    To date its something we all laugh about at the diwali Dinner table….by far my most favourite Diwali memory!

  18. One of my earliest and fondest memories is of Diwali when I was in the 4th grade. I still remember the excitement that I felt getting up at 4 in the morning, having a race with my friends as to who would get ready the quickest and who had the most paper outside the house..I still enjoyed the festival in later years but none were a patch to that Diwali..

  19. My favorite diwali memory was to make amazing rangoli at my house entrance and then decorating it with beautiful diyaz and the best of all gettin dressed up in the tranditional attire and getting clicked myself with the rangoli.

    Happy Diwali to all :)

  20. my fav diwali memory would be all the diwalis spent in india with my mom. sadly, she passed away and diwali stopped being a fav festival after that.

  21. my most favourite memory is diyas and rangoli.. my mom would light up 1000 diyas in temple for every diwali.. and it would be spectacular… in US, i miss that part of diwali the most :(

    anyhoo, happy diwali folks :)

  22. My favorite Diwali memory is my last Diwali back home.. the beautifully lit house and all the fun we had will be a lasting memory as i have not celebrated Diwali with family back home in 5 years.. I also loved getting dressed up in beautiful clothing..

    Ahhh… miss the good old days:(
    but Happy Diwali to all..
    Have fun guys even if we are in the US, we can celebrate Diwali as much as possible!!

  23. Every time I think of Diwali or any theme representing it, my heart is filled with joy and I realize how colorful the world around me is. That, I would say, is my favorite Diwali memory :).

    Every year, as a child, I spent Diwali with my cousins and relatives and I never slept a wink on Diwali nights. I remember all of us kids would lay on the floor in a room together and share secrets, horror stories, family gossips, and also plan ahead for the most special day of our lives. In that sense, Diwali meant much more to me than just the traditional significance it carries for most others.

    We would wake up at 4 am on the morning of Diwali (not that we ever slept) and get our hair oiled by our grandmother. Then, we would have an oil bath and dress up in turns. Then, we would have “cracker competitions” with other kids in the area and try to break past records. I can never forget those days and miss them a lot.

  24. Being raised in delhi, like most typical dehiites I have the most wonderful memories of diwali. We delhiwalas feel its almost OUR festival you know. You can hear the crackers bursting in wide spaced intervals almost a month ahead and those five days of choti, badi and main diwali…we used to scream on the top of our voices inside our rooms and laugh at each other not able to hear a thing. I also remember going out with my friends , bursting crackers in front of each of our houses on the streets, dancing in sheer glee as the lights envelop us.

    Like in school I remember one month ahead of the festival, the teachers used to set up these anti -crackers squad to keep all this firecrackers business at bay. Unluckily for me, although I personally love patakas…, I was once part of this anti-squad. Oh how I remember running after kiddos in school… “patake mat phodo” and hue and cry, all in vain though. Once running behind one of the guys, he rushed into a boys loo with a somewhat powerful cracker and in front of me ( me helplessly watching standing outside), he lit the damn thing and threw it into the sink and ran outside. Before I could catch him, the basin exploded and I fell down shocked and scratched my knee. Looking at my wound, I remember feeling more of happiness than misery, just wondering aloud, what the hell am I doing? I almost became a 10 year old again running after another 10 year old. :)
    Thats what diwali does to you. :)

    • You are right Athira..Our neighbors used to get ten thousand ki ladi (hehe)..thats what they would call it ..and it would keep burning for hours!!Sigh I miss Delhi and Diwali :(

  25. I was born in the US. Last year was the first time that I got to celebrate Diwali in India. What made it the most special was that I had the opportunity to celebrate it with my nana and nani ji. Sitting in between them during the Pooja, lighting fire crackers, eating sweets, shopping and taking loads of pictures with them made it even more memorable.

  26. the crisp cool mornings, the festive air and me and my daadi on the veranda starting the day making beautiful rangolis….Going shopping with my mother a couple of days before to get new clothes for all the close family.Happy to have papa away from work at home with us.Best is the whiff of the air ..sometimes cool sometimes filled with the smell of crackers but festive nonetheless.Evenings would be all of us gathering outside the home to burst crackers..young , old, rich , poor all together on this occasion to celebrate together.

  27. Best part of diwali is definitly Laxmi puja, loads of mithai, loads of masti, and tons of firecrackers, and tons of food! :)

  28. My favorite part – apart from lighting up the whole house with diyas, exchanging & sweets, and doing the Lakshmi Puja – is the morning after. That was the day people who couldn’t make it to your place with gifts/sweets in the days preceding Diwali would come visit. In my case it was almost always a family with kids.

    I loved scraping off candle remains with the other kids. We’d run off to the terrace so the adults wouldn’t know what we were up to, fill up the soot-black diyas with candle remains, hold them with a pair of pliers over another burning candle, then marvel at the shapes that came to be with the dip in water immediately after. Such fun! I can recreate the rest of the Diwali experience as an adult but can’t get that sense of wonder and joy – and surprise at every new shape – back.

  29. my favorite diwali memory is of the time before marriage in india,before coming to usa. i would decorate whole house in flowers,candles,diya and rangoli.also make mata’s feet from entrance of house till the mandir. and in evevning get dressed up in new suit,loads of bangles and greet relatives at home and head out with my friends to burst crackers.

  30. Getingt up at 5 am in the morning hearing a distant patakha sound….hearing the neighborhood hustle parents made us 3 siblings sit in a row and they would apply a little oil on our hair …my brother and me had this competition of who would be ready first to go burst crackers outside while it was still very dark…trying to beat our neighbourhood friends…show off our new clothes…..girls going to friends houses to exchange the home made sweets….I particularly used to be proud of my mother’s mysore pak and pumpkin halwa.I used to help my mom decorate our house with the rangoli …..I used to dread being out and walking to friend’s houses because I was scared I would inadvertently step on an atom bomb or something….loved the bhoomi chakras and flower pots.I just loved giving our house maid a brand new saree and the smile on her face,,,,giving everyone who came home ( milkman,postman,…) some gift or the other…everyone looked their best and had a smile…the little drizzle which used to dampen the Diwali spirit a wee bit …Loved staring at the windows which were decorated with diyas…the late night get together with family friends and the extra special cheer that only Diwali could bring in the whole year ! Diwali is an intrinsic part of my special memorable childhood!!!

  31. Hi,
    My favourite Diwali memory is being 11 years old and waking up at 5 am with my friends in the aprtment comlpex and secretly ,simulataneously lighting loud ‘laxmi bombs’ and wake all the uncle and aunties up.
    we only got caught after a friends mom smelt the sulfur in our hands.But the annoyance of everyone waking up to loud noises felt so badass at that age!

  32. I’m not a Hindu, so we didn’t do the poojas and other religious activities. But my parents made sure we lit a few diyas around the house and got us some crackers to celebrate with our neighbours. Our friends and neighbours made sure we had loads to sweets and savouries to munch on :)

  33. Diwali has always been my favorite festival. Two favorite memries come to mind. First is my earliest memory of Diwali – I must’ve been around 3 or 4 years old, living in India back then. I remember standing too close to a friend who was lighting a cracker that I was ‘blinded’ for a few minutes. I remember crying hysterically, telling my parents what a fool I’d been losing my sight to a fire cracker. Of course, after a few minutes, I realized with great happiness that all was well. The momentary brightness of the cracker had over-powered my senses for a few minutes.

    Second fave memory goes back to a diwali in my teens. After a fun Diwali evening full of visits from relatives and friends, I remember going to sleep looking at a diya burning bright in the puja place in my room. It was such a warm and beautiful feeling, and for me that diya somehow stood as a symbol of hope and all the good times associated with this festival. It’s just a simple thing, but I vividly recall that beautiful feeling to this day.

  34. My fondest memory of Diwali is getting up early in the morning and making rangoli with flowers,rice grains and using all colors possible, also decorating the diyas a day before was a lot of fun.
    Diwali brings smile to my face as the world around me is all lit up and everything is just so surreal.
    To me Diwali is all about family and friend get together,sweets,dry fruits,bursting crackers,praying..its a festival where it enlightens my soul.
    Sadly i miss my family back in India.. because Diwali is not the same in US :(
    Wishing everyone a Shubh Deepavali and a Prosperous New Year.

  35. My favorite diwali memory, is not one but for four good years from age of 6-10.

    It would start the previous day, with all my dad’s brothers (total 6 of them) arriving home. We used to have a joint family celebration.

    Every one including the kids will wake up by 2.00/3.00 for Ganga Snanam – you need to wake up before sunrise. There would be a huge competition between kids on who wakes up first and who takes bath first. With the coal based boiler on , the house teeming with activity, the adults who hardly got a wink of sleep the previous night would be up fresh – when did they do that.
    Every one will manage to take bath by 4.00/5.00 and will be greeted with the new dress and sweet, when they step out of the bath. And how did the magical sweets appear.

    Now to the most exciting part.
    But thats for later. First the bursting of crackers, every one from the 72 year old thatha to my 6 old yr cousin – will get a chance. Rockets and Parachutes(which will never fall in our garden) were the climax. An Honor bestowed.

    Younger ones will get crackers/ flower pot/sangusakramam. little older ones will get the most boring bijli which one piece at a time can go on the whole day, the older teenaged ones will get 1000walas and what not.

    And every year without fail, I used to burn a small hole in my female cousin’s saree(she and I were the only females among 8 male cousins) by accident. EVery year and nice part is, she hardly remembers me burning her saree and fondly recalls the good times!

    Oh, best part – yes, there is more than one best part, as we get the blessings of each of the elder couples – patti-thatha, periappa-periamma, chittapa-chittis, athai -maama… we will be gifted wtih money –

    And guess what – we will collect all that money – the kids will go for an exhibition or picnic with that money.

    Evening will be a harmless card game like olympiad or some such things.

    After all, festivals should be about coming together of families – fun and food – that was what diwali was about then.

    We still keep a bit of this tradition in India.Visit families, ofcourse bursting of crackers is all in the sky now – somethings change.

    But family, food and fun remain the same!

  36. My favorite memory is one which takes me to a place of extreme peace and happiness.After we had burst every last cracker we had,My parents and us would go on the terrace and just sit there.looking at the sky enjoying the sounds of crackers from far away,hearing the laughs of the neighbours.That half hour we spent every diwali was the high point of my festival

  37. For my studies and later for my job I came to Pune and used to stay alone. Yr 2009 on the eve of Diwali, I was missing the grand Diwali celebration back home. Nevertheless, half brooding, I was busy preparing for Laxhmi Puja, Making Kheer etc..
    Suddenly my then boyfriend, now husband’s parents gave me a surprise visit. That was my first meeting with them.

    The story goes like this, they recently came to know that their Son is dating someone who stays alone far from home. So to make my Diwali special they decided to perform the Laxhmi Puja with me. They came with a pack of sweets and a bag full of crackers. My mom-in-law gave me a Big hug and said lets make Rangoli. Then I saw my boyfriend coming from behind all smiling. I was so touched and was crying with joy. I was away from my mom dad but on the eve of Diwali I got an additional set of loving Parents.
    This year both me and my hubby are away from home here in US but we have decided to celebrate Diwali in the best way possible with the blessing of our parents.

    Happy Diwali to All.

  38. i think it was diwali in the year 2000.
    the first one where i was a single parent to my six year old son.

    after starting my life afresh with just sixty four bucks in my bank account – not only was i able to have a diwali with new clothes and sweets for my son – i was able to light up all the walls and corners of the rambling bungalow which we lived in ( which the landlord had agreed to lease to me after i chucked my husband out of the house ! ) with candes and diyas.

    i also hosted my ex husband and his family briefly – when they came by to wish us in the evening.

    that was one diwali i was truly proud to celebrate.

    • Go you!! I’m proud of you too, and I don’t even know you. Takes SOME grace to host an ex-spouse with family on the happiest day of the year.

      • thanks wild child. always nice to be appreciated. hope i can return the favour soon. a splendid diwali to you and yours !!

  39. making colorful rangoli with my sister all day long. having papa feed us with diwali goodies while we made the rangoli .

  40. My favorite at Diwali has always been in India. The excitement generated at the time…the smell of mithais….the beautiful decorations on the streets and the shops…is just amazing! My brother and I probably ate like 4 kgs of sweets combined in 2 days. I wish I could gorge the same way now. For Diwali , India is the place I want to be at!!

  41. Lighting up diyaas and placing them in all corners of my parents’ home is my favorite Diwali memory.I follow the same tradition at my home in US.

  42. my favorite memory is helping mom make the mithais. I miss the camaradrie we shared. I used to look forward to dad getting us new clothes for me and my sister. He always bought the same dress in different colors and we are not twins. :)

  43. My favorite memory is of my cousins coming over for dinner on Diwali night after which, all of us would burn crackers until midnight.I really miss those days!.

  44. Thanks for the giveaway!!

    Diwali is my fav festival. My fav memory would be waking up early in the morning and wearing new clothes and my baba wearing a white crisp kurta and burst the first cracker – always a Lakshmi bomb!!! We would be soo excited because after the morning pooja, breakfast would consist of all the Diwali ‘faraal’ that mom would make. This was the only time of the year, where we would eat unhealthy snacks as an actual meal. :) How I wish I could be in India for Diwali!!!

  45. I remembered watching this ad (asian paints, I think) where the mother walks up to a mess outside the front door, and her daughter says “this is not a mess, its a rangoli”.. I asked my mom if we could make one together, and we gave it our best shot the night before diwali. The night of, we lit diyas and decorated the rangoli with flowers to cover the “messy” spots, and chuckled everytime we saw that ad on TV.

  46. Memories… misty water colored memories :)
    this post has got me thinking of all the Diwalis that i spent in India and the USA…
    its amazing.. i think i remember every detail of each years Diwali so clearly…

  47. My sister was proposed to by her boyfriend at Diwali 2 years ago. He wrote “Will you marry me” with the diyas.. so romantic! Pretty bold though considering it was in front of everyone in the family. Perfect setting – little lights from the diyas, everyone was dressed up, so pretty!

    After that, it was even more family fun/food/celebration!

  48. I love everything about Diwali..the colors ,the lights ,the sweets ,the festive spirit and my very beautifully dressed mom :)..Every year i wish I could be home in Delhi for Diwali :(..I think my fondest memory of Diwali is when my Inlaws were here in 2007 ….It was my first Diwali post Shaadi and it coincided with my mum in laws birthday ..I had just started to bond with them ..since it was the first time they were visiting us ..When my inlaws went to sleep ..My husband and I decorated the house with Diyas..We made a rangoli ..I baked a cake and got her a lovely Jewellery box and a silk banarasi sari ..After a lot of contemplation my husband woke them up at 12 and took them to the balcony where this was all set up..My MIL shouted with excitement ..she had tears in her eyes ..I was soo touched ..

  49. I use to live in Bangalore and seeing all the residents in our apartment complex come together and celebrate Diwali despite being from different religions and places was amazing. Diwali has become a festival of family, friends, love and laughter and this phenomenon is amazing for me. I also loved going up to the 11th floor to see the dance of lights filling the city-scape. My Diwali in Bangalore is unforgettable for me!

  50. my favorite memory is the one after i got married. my husband and I along with our dog invited all of our friends. We lit diyas, looked very festive and ate awesome diwali specialties.

  51. My Favorite memory of Diwali is from every Diwali I spent with my Mom. There were so many traditions, she did everything so lovingly. Be it the big cleaning project of the house, shopping for new clothes, diya’s anything. She involved us in every part and made it fun.

    Then the actual diwali day, eating “Suran” ki sabzi, so that we are not born as “chachundar” in next life (I have never heard this funda from anyone else, I wonder if mom made it up to make us eat the sabji) :D. Late in the nights when everyone else was drooping away from exhaustion, mom would bring out the uptan (a mustard seed scrub) and give everyone’s feet a massage. And the most fun final act of the day, putting home made surma in everyone’s eyes, my baby brother struggling to get away from this feminine act hehehe…. Such beautiful days they were, forever etched in memory.

  52. Oooh Diwali memories..hard to pick a favorite so I’m going to name my favorite pre-Diwali, Diwali and post-Diwali ones:)
    Pre-Diwali: I grew up in a joint family– 6 kids and a grandfather with a very young heart made for very exciting times!! In the weeks before Diwali my grandfather used to come home every night with fireworks for all of us– phooljhadis, phuaaras, rockets–you name it!! The anticipation of what was coming was as exciting as actually lighting the fireworks.
    Diwali: Having the entire extended family together for the morning puja and then the Lakshmi puja followed by gift exchange ceremony. Singing the aarti surrounded by diyas is such a surreal, beautiful experience. And how can one forget the Diwali feast–puris, aloo, halwa. YUM! And then of course the fireworks competition on the building terrace with every neighboring building trying to outdo the other–my rockets goes higher than yours;-)
    Post-diwali: Finding leftover fireworks the next day and having a “bonfire” in the building compound. Oh and of course insisting six months later that you still had some diwali gift money leftover to buy a Barbie.
    Happy Diwali everyone– may you create great memories this Diwali that you look back on fondly forever!

  53. It’s been more than 7 years since I moved away from home, but we make sure we are there for Diwali at least once every three years, so we don’t miss out on all the sweets and fun! It’s so much fun to light diyas all around the house and lighting crackers with the neighbors and exchanging sweets. Many fond memories are attached to Diwali when we were kids.

  54. My favorite Diwali memory is of the one back home. We used to get so many sweets from all the neighbours, then my friends and I would collect our pocket money and go to the market to eat pani-pur and chaat masala, buy crackers and then burst them at night. The next morning was more fun when we would collect all the gun powder from the crackers and burn them again. We were over creative and would try all sorts of tricks with rockets. Those were reallly fun days.

  55. My fav memory is that the whole family used to unite at my grandparents house, we kinds use to have so much fun lighting candles, bursting crackers, getting dressed for the occasion, doing puja together. I miss that now we rarely get to see each other as everyone is busy and being in US I miss on all the family gatherings……

  56. As kids we used to build small Gharonda for Laxmi and Ganesh… We used to decorate it with lil lamps and all kid toys… There used to be a competetion and the winner used to get a bag of chocolates..

  57. Growing up Diwali always meant Aboo and I taking an afternoon trip a day or so before the big day to some obscure part of Bombay to pick up fireworks. We’d make sandwiches and set off. After a couple of hours of shopping we would head back like pirates with a Fiat’s trunk full of treasures, rockets, ladies, anaars, chaklies, bombs…. Mom is Hindu but as far as the preteen me was concerned this was an all out Aboo holiday :)

  58. My favorite memory is lighting sparklers while making sure to keep my fancy new clothes with tons of jewellery clean for alteast one evening. It required some concentrated effort on my part given that I was such a tomboy.

  59. My favorite Diwali memory is of my entire family, celebrating together! My husband, his family, my sister, her kids, my aunts, uncles, the joyous cousins, and off course my dear Grandmother! It was a joyous time, filled with bright colors, diyas lit everywhere, and pure sparkle in every ones eyes. The beautiful Indian clothing, some in sarees, some in shalwars, the men in kurtis, and the lil one’s running around sometimes in bare buff being sweet and innocent.

    The sweet scent of “ghee” was everywhere. So aromatic and pungent the spices, and the multitude of sweets on the dining table. My grandmother, chachi, and mom making parontas and frying in ghee until golden and server with chola, aloo dum, and off course mitahi!

    Diwali is always fun and the traditions are wonderful, but it’s the togetherness of family that brings back amazing memories, of what seem to be too busy of days to at times continue these traditions.

    I try my best to pass on the torch to my children and future generations by taking them to the mandir, lighting diyas at home, and frying home made parontas just like my dear Grandmother (rip). I think its crucial to invigorate the sensory details and enlist memories in my children though a long distance from home.

  60. Loved the Diwali holidays!!!! And spending time with my Ma making Diwali sweets and namkeen!!!! Didn’t get to taste them all before – so had to wait patiently till Diwali day to taste it!!! And then the unofficial crackers-competition in neighborhood :)

  61. It’s hard to find one single fav memory when it comes to Diwali.The pre-cable,pre-internet childhood days are filled with beautiful memories of all the festivals,especially Diwali.

    Getting up early in the morning,taking a head bath,having a special breakfast with poori,aloo kurma,home made ladoo and other snacks.Arranging kondapalli toys,dolls and deities on nine steps(bommala koluvu)and decorating with flowers and lights.Later in the evening we would all take shower again,wear new clothes,decorate the whole house with diyas and do Laxmi Pooja together.This part is more significant than the crackers itself.

    Finally when it was time to show off our collection of crackers my elder brothers tried to get the best crackers available.Of course I was allowed to light just the sparkles and flower pots.I remember the first time I tried to light a rocket and my dad got me a 2 feet long agarbathi to make sure that I am at safe distance.Ha ha….I love those days.

    Shubh Deepavali to all of you.

  62. Being a non-Hindu, we never celebrated Diwali at home, But went every year to a Family Friends house who celebrated it on large scale. Hence my fav diwali memory is of going early to their house, lighting diyas around the house (Mrs R didnt have daughters so I helped her out :) and I loved it. She would wait for me to join her in lakhsmi puja. After that it was swwets and delicious food and loads of crackers bursting with her boys- who managed to pull a diwali drama(luckily without hurting anyone) everyyear :) I miss those days and remember them every year.

  63. There are plenty of fav ones. I cherish the ones celebrated at my grandmoms place in Madras where all of us cousins woke up at 4am to see who would start bursting the fire crackers first. It was helluva competition. The fragrance ~ a combination of the puja camphor, bhakshanams(sweets, savories) along with the fire crackers still linger on…awesome times. :)

  64. My dad used to take all of us kids to the store (I grew up in a joint family) and allow us to fill a big sack with whatever firecrackers we wanted. We would have a blast filling it up, all the while imagining how much fun we would have when we lit all of them one by one. The anticipation of the thrill was almost as good as the thrill itself.

    We would start slow, trying to savor each little firecracker, saving the best for the last. But then towards the end, we would still usually have a quarter of a sack full left, that is when we used to start burning them at a faster rate, finally culminating in a dazzling finale of whatever was left. Man, do I sound like a pyro-maniac or what? :)

  65. Every Diwali my parents, brother and I used to visit my grandparents in Baroda, Guajrat. The first time we went after my brother was born we gave them a surprise. We rang their bell and kept my brother (he was a year old) outside their door and all of us hid around. My grandfather opened the door and was like “Yeh kiska bacha hai?”.. and they we all sprang from behind and wished him Happy Diwali. We all had sweets talked for a long time and enjoyed every moment of the festival for the next four days.

  66. The first Diwali that I spent with my husband was the most memorable! He gifted me a brand new sari! But what makes it the most special was the time that we spent together during this auspicious day, especially since we were newly weds!! Together we decorated the entire house with lights, lite up clay lamps, made rangoli in front of the door, did Pooja and burst lots of fire crackers.

  67. Every year the change in season, brings me warm thoughts of Diwali. The cool mornings and nights reminds me that Diwali is around the corner. I remember the days when used to go on shopping spree for Diwali. Everyone wears new clothes that day, it was fun noticing who is wearing what! :)
    That brings one thought, that’s what I do at HHC now, everyday :)

  68. Every year around diwali some guy in my school would burst a cracker in the school’s boys toilet. This harmless activity would generate tremendous excitement ..while the teachers look pissed off and launch usual ‘investigation’. My favorite diwali moment was when I was 15 and I was the first one (girl) to burst a cracker in the girl’s toilet. all the students came out of their classrooms into the corridors and I still remember the look on the face of the teachers.

  69. Being woken up early with the promise of a festive morning, wearing the new clothes, watching the fireworks from the terrace of my apartment building and the eating my mom’s soft idlis along with all the Diwali goodies she made. I wish I can impart a little of that to my lil one!

  70. I came to US in 2008 for masters. It was the first diwali without all my family and friends. But our School Graduate association organized this diwali celebration in Desi style. It was amazing to see all indian and non-indian students wearing traditional dresses for this celebration. The school hall was decorated with all colorful chunaris, rangolis, balloons and diyas. The celebration started with pooja, followed by sweets distribution and stage performances like dances/songs/plays and continued with indian dinner and dance,music and firecrackers. People from different states of India coming together in US and celebrating together made it really special.

  71. Diwali makes me so nostalgic. My favorite Diwali memor is competing with friends to see who makes the best rangoli:) Also, after Lakshmi Pooja, us friends would take a long walk around the place we lived and wish everyone a Happy Diwali. Sigh! Those were the days.

  72. As a child, I was very scared of fireworks. I still am, a little. One of my most memorable Deepavalis was when my Mum’s parents came to visit us. I must have been about 5 or 6. Until then, I’d usually just stay in the house and watch everyone else. My maternal grandfather cajoled me into coming outside, he held my hand the whole time, helping me light flowerpots, bhoomi-chakras and made me ‘write’ Happy Deepavali with my sparklers. After that, I was a lot less scared because I always had my Grandfather with me, in person or spirit on Deepavali.

  73. My most favorite memory would be when I was 12 years old and realized how much harm I am doing to the environment by burning crackers, and the pollution it is causing. I boycotted crackers that year and only decorated my house lighting diyas and candles. I am from Delhi and helped Delhi air be a little more clean that day and hence forth. Diwali is a festival of lights and I felt I truly understood what enlightenment means that day.

  74. I attended a Diwali celebration years ago in New Jersey that was a lot of fun. I’m not Indian myself, but had Indian friends in high school.

  75. First thing which comes in mind about Diwali is crackers shopping. I come from a joint family and all the kids were allowed equal amount for money to buy crackers. All my Brothers, Cousin and I use to go shopping and buy Crackers. Later we use to display all our stuff and brag about it ….Who has the coolest cracker. We use to actually count all individual crackers. So that no one steals them. Miss all those days and mostly Diwali. Time changes and Memories always remain!!
    Happy Diwali to all!

  76. My favorite memories of Diwali is of being whisked away by my cousins to their apartment complex’ open air terrace to light phatakas (crackers) along with the rest of the apartment resident. they’d also have huge bowls of sweets and snacks that we’d periodically keep digging in. Since I don’t have siblings, my cousins (all older than I) would make it a point to include me in every minute of the festivities so I wouldn’t feel left out.

    Every once in a while, we’d get into trouble by sending rockets incorrectly, but the good part is we’d all stay put together and share the blame…the elders could’y get a peep out of us as to who the trouble maker was!

  77. Fav diwali memory is when the boys in my neighborhood challenged girls saying that girls only use easy fireworks and are scared of lighting a bomb. I went ahead and fired the bomb – by making the tail 1 foot long, giving me plenty of time to return back safely :). Guys were speechless at my use of brain ..after that girls would tease guys saying ‘ silly boys.. smart girls’ ahh to be a kid again.

  78. My fave diwali memory is my first diwali in India, before this I’d never experienced Indian culture. We lit diyas all over my uncles place and lit fireworks till 2 am :D I miss the Indian festivals everyday :( Happy Diwali in advance guys :D

  79. The Diwali that is most memorable to me is the one that came 10 days before my wedding, 8 years ago – the mithai making, the beautiful indian clothing, the colorful rangoli, lighting the diyas after the Diwali pooja, Diwali songs playing on the stereo system, my then boyfriend flying in and meeting all extended family and friends and especially my grandmother who unfortunately couldn’t travel out of country to be there for my wedding and wanted to meet my to-be husband….celebrating it and cherishing every moment because I knew this was probably going to be the last Diwali I will be celebrating at home the way I have for the past 25 years….and the last one with my grandmother among us as she passed away few months after that…those memories will never die !

  80. Definitely got to be the Diwalis we celebrated back home. Wow, wearing new clothes, eating various snacks and sweets, lighting the diyas, elaborate rangoli designs, fire crackers and the puja. Checking out the rangolis in the neighborhood. Way too many memories…..I try to do the same with my kids here in the US but cannot match up to the celebration we had in India as a child.

  81. Since I’m not Hindu, my favorite part has and will always be when my roomate returns from her parents house with lots of sweets!

  82. My most memorable Diwali was 8 years ago, right before I moved to the States. It was the last Diwali that I spent in India. I am a Doctor, so on the day of Diwali, I took lots of balloons, sweets and toys for all the kids in the children’s ward. To see their faces brighten with joy and excitement and see their smiles touch ear to ear (and temporarily forget about their illness), for me this was priceless and therefore, my most special Diwali!

  83. I have many many awesome Diwali memories. This festival is so close to my heart that I cannot really pinpoint one. But the most most closest diwali’s were the ones that I experienced when I was a kid.

    My dad has four brothers and a sister. We were the only ones who lived in a different city. As soon as it was Diwali time, me and my sister would get allll excited (since it was time for us to visit all our cousins)..
    New dresses that our mom used to get stitched at the family tailor’s shop. The Tailor used to have a book for all the new dresses .. We would get the new dresses and get all excited to meet all our cousins .

    My grand dad used to own a clothing store, and we used to do Lakshmi puja there and 15 kids would just beat the hell out of those crackers !! All the streets would be lit by beautiful diyas. Every balcony, every corner… everything looked so magical in the candle light.

    My most favorite ones were the ‘hazaar wala’ bombs. We used to be utterly scared of the ‘lakshmi’ bombs, atom bombs (the green wounded tread one), and all the other bombs … and the ‘rockets’ were usually only for grown ups..

    The sparklers(the silver colored sticks), flower pots and ‘chakras’ that go round and round on floor were everyone’s favorites.

    There was stuff for kids too .. ‘Snakes’ were the tablets that would flow out like snakes when lit, and then the matches that gave colored flames. Not to forget the dummy ‘guns’ which needed to be loaded with ‘rolls’ that would make a ‘tap’ sound evertime you hit the trigger !

    Ah nostalgia.. It was BLISS. Ofcourse never to forget the sweets and the deliciously delicious food. When we were kids, there was no guilt of eating all that which made it even more fab.

    Later on when I grew up, ‘say no to crackers’ came into action for environmental reasons, yet we still managed to have fun with college friends in college premises without causing lot of pollution.. but neverthless, Diwali is yet another AMAZING Indian festival that just brings people and hearts together and shares lots and lots of joys and happiness.

    Diwali for me reminds me of all the good times I spent with my family and cousins that make us a close knit family

  84. Growing up, Diwali in India was a time of endless fun with family and friends and a few new clothes.
    Today, here in the US, miles and miles away from India, I have closets full of clothes and shoes but no family and close friends to celebrate Diwali with.
    I hold the memories of all past Diwalis close to my heart.
    To everyone who is celebrating with their families..these moments are so precious, enjoy them to the fullest!

  85. My favorite Diwali would be the one where I would get to donate a lorry full of chappals (flipflops) to the needy. It hasn’t come yet but I wish I get to do that when I am in India next time. It’s something I daydream about often.

  86. Favorite Diwali memory is spending it with my nanaji and naniji during our diwali break. My nanaji was bed ridden for many many years and naniji was also very frail. But spending time with the grandkids and the festival time always brought a sparkle to their faces which I still remember:) It was the only time nanaji could cheat on doctor’s orders and eat sweets and we used to take turns feeding him different sweets. We used to light diyas and sparklers etc in the garden while they watched and shout ‘ronaka ronakka’. Wow! Those were the days. May their souls rest in peace.

  87. PnP when will you have a giveaway for Sydney residents…
    can help but feel J with all the beautiful giveaways that I am never eligible for… :(

  88. As with everyone else, my favorite memory as a kid in Mumbai is the firecrackers. Then when we moved to California, it was just quiet Laxmi pujas at home. Now on the east coast, I make my kids our relatives, and our friends light sparklers in the freezing cold outside (because fireworks really are mandatory for Diwali!) until everyone curses me and wants to go inside, where we binge eat, drink, and play poker (for quarters) while the kids all play games and enjoy themselves in the basement. Diwali for me isn’t one single memory. It’s a day I celebrate being an Indian. I’m more likely to remember Yom Kippur, because the kids have the day off, rather than Holi. But Diwali is a day when I celebrate the world in which I grew up, my ethnic identity, my cultural heritage, my religon, my India.

  89. My most memorable Diwali memory is when i was a kid , say childhood memories. Mom making sweets and savories a week ahead of Diwali and then exchanging thalis with different homemade sweets and snacks with neighbors and receiving their snacks. trying to check out whats in their plate. Man! wish we could still have such rituals! sigh! those were the days.

  90. The best part of growing up in a mixed neighborhood was that we got to share in all festivals-Diwali being no exception. I remember once all of us kids in the neighborhood got together to burst crackers and eat sweets later on. Getting ready for the get together was the most fun part. The elders would be busy getting food and stuff organised while the youngsters were left to their own in the house. Once my friend tried to dress me up (both us were 6). She managed to convince me to put kajal on my lips explaining that the latest fashion was black lipstick and since we we couldnt get one so we should improvise. Dutifully both of us put on the black kajal; rubbed red lipstick on our fingers and used that as kajal (since we had used the kajal as lipstick). The combinations we came up with included green eyeshadow on our cheeks ( we stole that from her elder sister) and to top everything we dressed up in a saree (read two gorgous dupattas that we got from (you guessed it) her sister’s wardrobe. We had wrapped the dupatta so tight that we had to hop to get to where the crackers were to be burst. You can well imagine that we scared the bejeesus out of our parents. I will not go into what happened later that evening- suffice to say both of us discovered muscles that we never knew existed (courtesy 200 situps holding our ears)

  91. My favorite memory is of making ‘gharonda’ during early childhood. It used to be fun to get all excited and plan windows, cardboard stairs and paint it with ‘chuna’/lime mixture. I remember us pestering my mom to get involved and she was always so encouraging, we used to have a blast! Lighting diyas, decorating it with simple paper filigree cutouts and placing Ganesha Lakshmi statues for puja. It was an amazing high!!

    Another reason I remember Diwali so fondly is because we would get earthen terracotta diyas from local ‘bazaar’. My dad would help us soak them in water in the afternoon, loved the heady ‘mitti’ smell, then we would soak cotton ‘batis’ and come evening fill the diyas with oil and light them in the night. The whole family would then watch the little flames flicker and burn. I feel so blessed to have some amazing memories and love my parents for making so much time for us!

  92. When i was 6 or 7, my bharathanatyam teacher put together a small semi-classical dance piece for us to perform for the Bay Area Telugu Association Diwali function. Seconds before going on stage my gold waistbelt started being really uncooperative, so my mom safely secured everything up with dozens of extra safety pins – or so she THOUGHT. Two and a half minutes into the dance one of the safety pins gave in and the belt started sliding down. I continued dancing. Then with about 20 seconds left of the piece it had slid down to my mid-thigh, I couldn’t take it anymore and I ran off the stage and just let the tears flow! Everyone saw and my night of glory had been ruined. After much consoling I finally agreed to come down to dinner where at least 25 people came up to me and told me my dancing was superb and that I had such legit expressions for being such young girl! I decided from then on I would continue with dancing and ill never forget this day :]

  93. My favourite Diwali memory- Waking up at the crack of dawn to the sound of firecrackers! Diwali was the only time I willingly woke up so early!

  94. I came to the US to do my masters and after graduation got a job and moved to a new city. My first Diwali in the new city was my most memorable (though bitter-sweet) Diwali. My father was visiting to help me set up my new apartment at that time and we spent it together. As I prepared for puja that night after work with my Dad, a realization dawned on me that I was finally a grown up. That I wasn’t in the safe haven of the university with dozens of friends and roommates. I was on my own in “MY” apartment creating my own memories of celebrating Diwali as an adult. We decorated my new apartment with colorful lights and diyas, performed Lakshmi puja, ate sweets, and went out for dinner. It was a relatively low-key Diwali for me with mixed feelings of longing for the past, a sense of accomplishment for where I was in life, and anticipation for what the new city, job, and life had in store for me. That Diwali was unique and will always remain special to me :)

  95. Our whole family spending 3-4 hours on the roof top of our house in delhi, just watching the lights go up all night… trying to spot the biggest n most colorful ball of light… ! :)
    One night never seemed enough for all those beautiful sights to sink in…
    And of course, one odd stray patakha from a restless indian in jersey city !!! :P

  96. Deepavali was a great time of the year for us kids back then. The house used to be filled with smell of milk, ghee and elaichi and the neighbourhood would go boom boom at regular intervals! I was so impatient that I used to go out and start burning the sparklers and flower pots in broad daylight and my mom would scream and call me back inside..haha! In the evening, while we kids had fun with the fire crackers, mom and dad would sit on the front steps and watch us. late in the night, we would all go upstairs to the terrace, set out chairs, sit under the open sky and watch the more well to do neighbours burn those ultra cool, pricey rockets! :)
    Miss you Mummy & Daddy and ofcourse home sweet home!

  97. The Diwali of 1999 with my grandmother. She lived in a beautiful house that she decorated with diyas and lights all through the driveaway and the backyard. She was famous for making the most succulent desserts. The 1999 Diwali is one of my treasured memories of her as she passed away in an accident a few months later and it was the last one we would all have with her.

  98. Some of my earliest and fondest memories of the Diwalis spent at home in India are about waking up to the reverberations of firecrackers, then huddling up with my friends and counting how many we’ve each been allowed to light up. Ofcourse there’d be the ceremonial “oil bath” and then the handing down of a new silk lehenga and some yellow gold jewelry to flaunt. And the intoxicating aromas that wafted from the kitchen, of raisins and cashews bathed in ghee and that of the spiked-up edge of cool cardamom..did little to lure us in as we spent a considerable amount of the day outdoors, having a cracker of a time. Then ofcourse we’d give in and wolf down a little too much mithai for one sitting..and giggle as the prayers were offered in the evening, at some inside joke or the other, about how a certain so-and-so was a scaredy-cat, for instance. Those days of yore were and shall always remain golden, even if they roll by in front of one’s frost-ridden air far away in the US in sepia-tinted frames..

  99. Diwali always meant cleaning the whole house, days ahead…changing rangoli everyday and finally the fire works. Each memory involves my parents, uncle/aunt distributing the fireworks accordingly to each kids liking as some of us did not like the loud crackers and som of us did. Then the day of “New Years”, we would all get up before the sun came out (5 am or so), get ready in the brand new outtfits and head to the temple. Then we would gather as a family and go to our realatives and friends house to eat the fresh mithais and other diwali delicacies. Us kids made sure that we touched the “adults” feet for bleesings as we knew that we would get some money. Then we would spend that on whaterver we wanted. Diwali equals tons of memories that will be with me forever.

  100. Back home diwali was all about making the snacks, cleaning the house, lighting almost 80-100 diyas and putting them on the compound walls of our house. And bursting the firecrackers till midnight!!!!!

  101. Favorite Diwali Memory: I was 8 and we had just moved to the US. Starting out my parents had a tough time financially so to celebrate, my mom made all the sweets/savories at home and we lit candles all over our small apartment. We made paper lanterns at home using designs my mom taught us. And then went to a local thrift store where our dad allowed us to pick out one toy each. It was memorable because of how special my parents still made the holiday with hardly any money in their pockets and no idea what the future was to hold for the family. I love and cherish them for this so much and will never forget the sacrifices they made for me and my brother.

  102. My favorite Diwali memory is spending time with my family in the midst of hundreds of lighted diyas during the Laxmi pooja………The warmth and the light engulfed the whole room while my dad chanted holy shlokas from the Ramayana……..It was my duty to place the diyas all around the house and then off to burning phuljharis and chakris…..those memories still light up my heart!

  103. My fav Diwali memory is lying awake the prev night in anticipation of early dawn when the traditional oil bath is had (its a south indian custom) before lighting the first patakhas…..i cud hardly sleep then and would be awake by 4 waking up everyone to hurry up and be done with the bath so that we can burts the crackers….

  104. Diwali…the most sparkling night of the year! My best memory is as a child with my dad. He would place a cracker at the rim of the gate and stand behind me and hold my hand to light it. Them we would race back to the verandah together grinning like crazy. Nobody else in the house enjoyed doing this as much the both of us, so I looked forward to this time every year. And last year after 10 years I had the chance to go to India for Diwali and this time around, it was my 4 yr. old daughter the fearless little ‘pataka’, whom my dad carried and lit crackers with. Watching them laugh together, made my eyes brim with tears of joy.

  105. I always celebrated Diwali the traditional way with my family either in India or Canada but my mother-in-law celebrates Diwali by feeding the homeless. Our family from older to younger including friends would take different types of food, desserts etc and feed the homeless at their shelter. We make this an all day event. Even though we did not do any fireworks or diya’s but just spending this time with the less fortunate and seeing their smiling faces left an unimaginable joy in my heart.

  106. Indian Diwalis are super fun..I am from a large family..when we cousins got together, it was a street-load of fun and mischief..I remember the times when rockets landed us in more trouble than our grades!! But here in US it has become our beloved excuse to get-together with other friends and celebrate..

  107. One of my favorite Diwali memories occurred while I was away from home in college. There were only a handful of South Asians at the school I attended, and unfortunately, Diwali was usually overlooked unless we were able to schedule our classes appropriately and drive/fly home to be with our respective families. One year, we decided to bring Diwali to us and placed tons of diyas in the fountains across campus. The effect was, in one word, stunning. The image remains one of my favorites to this day. It felt wonderful to have found a way to bring a little of the Diwali fun and beauty to our doorsteps while we were separated from our families.

  108. diwali is lovely as always but being so far away from india takes some spark out of it, literally. We do all the partying, firecrackers, sweets, good food and company of friends thing all right, but i miss seeing the whole city being decked up and rejoicing outside. somethings are just meant to be at their grandest at the home location i guess :)….still we cherish and celebrate this festival with fervor and joy every year :)

  109. My fondest memory of Diwali is getting up early in the morning and making rangoli with flowers,rice grains and using all colors possible, also decorating the diyas a day before was a lot of fun.
    Diwali brings smile to my face as the world around me is all lit up and everything is just so surreal.
    To me Diwali is all about family and friend get together,sweets,dry fruits,bursting crackers,praying..its a festival where it enlightens my soul.
    Sadly i miss my family back in India.. because Diwali is not the same in US :(
    Wishing everyone a Shubh Deepavali and a Prosperous New Year.

  110. There are too many Diwali memories in my mind to put all of them here. One of the more recent ones was in 2006, which was the year I moved to the US. We had a gathering of Indian students at our university, and I went in thinking it will make me terribly miss home because it will be nowhere close to what I had experienced at home. Yet, even though the skits prepared were amateur, the food was nothing great, there was trouble getting the dance numbers to play well, I came back feeling satisfied. I was glad that there is a festival which can bring Indians from all around the country together and (try to and mostly succeed to) enjoy.

  111. My favorite Diwali memory is when I attended a celebration college friends were throwing at school last year. It was so festive and colorful. The food was great and trying to spot the most colorful ball of light was just so amazing! I’ve never seen anything like it! :)