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Nov 09 2012

Festival of B(light)

It’s the Hindu Christmas time… It’s Diwali. The Festival of Light.

What this means is four days off to pig out, dress in fancy outfits and get money from relatives.

It also means non-stop fireworks around the clock and the usage of massive loudspeakers that play everything from religious music to the latest movie hits. However? In Tamil Nadu there is a shortage of electricity. We have 22 hours of power a day. Some places have just 16 hours a day.

The reason is that no one wants new power stations to be constructed and any attempts to do so are met with opposition. Corruption is rife and basically the state is slowly being strangled by it’s lack of infrastructure. The festival of light will probably be a festival of dark. I shall try and get pictures up for you guys so you can see some of the stuff I am involved with and do around here.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    Diwali

    Very interesting, as it seems that every religion and every region has its own, contradictory reason for the celebration.

    If a lack of electricity is a problem, what did they do for the centuries before power plants existed?

  2. 2
    Avicenna

    Oil Lamps… India goes mental for disposable oil lamps run on clarified butter or coconut oil…

  3. 3
    Gregory in Seattle

    A disposable oil lamp, fueled by butter.

    That just seems… very outside of my cultural framework.

  4. 4
    embraceyourinnercrone

    Yup, rolling blackouts suck, I remember those from when we lived in Guam. the ones during the day I didn’t mind as I was at work and we had a generator. The nighttime ones were a pain because the 2 – 3 hour period we lost power alternated and I would sometimes lose track of what time the outage was scheduled for. A little dangerous when you have your (very mobile!) 7 month old sitting on the blanket on the floor playing and the lights go out. She thought the weekly games of “Wheres the baby?” were hilarious. However I am now always ready when we have a power outage here in the Northeast, which came in handy this past week or so, the battery lanterns and camp stoves got a good work out!
    Fortunately the baby is now in college.

  5. 5
    embraceyourinnercrone

    Forgot to note in my comment, Northeast US, Hurricane Sandy induced power outage.

  6. 6
    shash

    The reason is that no one wants new power stations to be constructed and any attempts to do so are met with opposition.

    If you refer to Kudankulam, when we account for the share that has to go to the rest of the nation, it won’t solve the problem by itself. Also, the grid itself is in a pathetic state – though probably a bit better than the rest of the country; it definitely can’t handle the load that we’re expecting over the next few years, even if more plants come online magically.

    @3: They’re usually little terracotta “diyas” about half the area of one’s palm like this, which are a traditional part of both Deepavali, and the other light-festival, Karthikai, which comes in December. More substantial ones made of brass or something similar are common too. And then there’s the massive Petromax ones that are used to light larger areas, as also night-time processions from temples.

    Incidentally, right now, it’s my locality’s turn to lose our power; I’m running on inverter power. In the city (Chennai), it’s 2 hours. In the rest of the state, it can reach epic 12 hour long cuts!

  7. 7
    Corvus illustris

    Gregory #s 1 & 3: Is it really that far outside your cultural framework? The Rural Electrification Administration was a New Deal Agency that addressed the problem, per Wikipedia, that:

    In 1934, less than 11% of US farms had electricity.

    This is just outside my memory field (b. 1938), but I certainly remember visiting farm relatives who had not yet put away functioning kerosene (~Petromax?) lamps and to whom the “high wire” had come only recently. In 1960s Germany, candles were being used (out of preference, hazardous as it was) to decorate Christmas trees.

  8. 8
    sgailebeairt

    @6 those clay ones look a lot like the cheapest roman-era oil lamps…. some were also natural scallop shells which may have been the original design ispiration….

  9. 9
    Winterwind

    Deepavali vazhthukkal! Time to stuff myself on laddu, neyurundai, gulab jamun and other diabetes-inducing sweets.

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