An Unforgettable Diwali in South Korea

Diwali - that time of the year again when the entire nation erupts into a frantic celebration mode. A time for reunions, decorations, gifting, and splurging.

That's Not All

Not to forget the crazy ass traffic on roads, the gambling tradition, and the incessant binging and putting on those extra calories in the process.


Can someone do anything about the burn injuries and air/noise pollution that result as a direct consequence of burning those effing firecrackers?

Diwali in Korean Highschool

You probably think it's a joke but it's not :)

In this post, I'll share my most memorable Diwali story that dates back to circa 2011 when me along with wifey (Sadhna), son (Rishab, aged 3 at that time), and a colleague from Lionbridge Korea (let's call him Jalan "asshole" Andrade) celebrated the festival of lights in - lo and behold - a Korean highschool.

Diwali God Idols
Sadhna wanted an elaborate Ghar Waali Diwali (, all the more so because we were away from our folks in India.

Ghar Waali Diwali

So we chalked out a plan to perfection for our first Diwali away from India.

First, we went to the biggest discount store in Korea called Homeplus to look for Diwali stuff (for the uninitiated, we lived in Korea for seven years from 2005 to 2012).

From one corner of the department store to the other, the search for colored flour, diyas, firecrackers/bottle rockets, lanterns, flower petals, etc. sent the entire retail chain staff into a frenzy.

We weren't going anywhere until we got what we wanted :D

First Success

We DID manage to get everything, most importantly the colored flour for preparing Rangoli.

In India, it is not uncommon to clean and decorate homes, commercial and government buildings, etc. before Diwali.

It didn't matter to Sadhna that we were celebrating Diwali in Korea, not India. She was way too adamant, and wanted our posh, three-bedroom Korean apartment in the heart of Seoul to be freshly painted -- just so she could feel at home during the festivities. Somehow I was able to dissuade her. Success number 1 :D

Don't Freak Out The Dogs

Now Diwali fireworks is considered a family event in most parts of India.

And I wonder why?

People light up fireworks in streets, near their homes, almost oblivious of the fact that they are freaking out the poor animals like stray dogs in the ordeal.

Don't get me started on the air and noise pollution. If you asked me what I dislike the most about this festival, it has go to be this part.

Anyway, since Jalan "asshole" Andrade was planning to pay us a visit on Diwali, we decided to shop for some Phuljharis (sparklers that are very popular on Diwali nights).

Roles and Responsibilities 

So we were all set. I was saddled with the task of indoor and outdoor Diya decoration. Jalan would hang the Diwali lanterns. Sadhna would make the Rangoli.

Diyas Decoration
Since Diwali is hailed as the biggest (possibly the brightest as well if you discount Holi) of all Hindu festivals, it is a custom to pray before we start any celebration. The historical significance behind this is: Lord Rama returned from exile to his kingdom after 14 years, and everyone planted little lanterns outside their homes to welcome him and grace the occasion.

On the D-day

At the setting of the sun, we ventured into a Korean highschool - our hunting ground for bursting firecrackers. We were doing fine for about 30 minutes, until the security guard spotted the fantastic four and shooed us away.

Shaken, Not Stirred

In no mood to allow anyone dampen our festive spirits, we returned to our apartment. And here's what we did.

We lit the candles and diyas again. From the balcony of our eighth floor apartment, Jalan started to fiddle with bottle rockets by placing the stick in an empty bottle and then igniting the rocket engine. Rishab's excitement was to be seen during the first moments of its flight. Simply put, priceless.


The fun continued throughout the night - with gambling first, followed by two back-to-back Bollywood flicks.

Who could've possibly imagined a Diwali away from home will turn out to be our most memorable to date!