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Stepping into The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion for the Enlighten Diwali 2023 event felt like returning to a haven of positive energy. This sacred space in Bendigo has been a personal favorite since my early days in the city when we arrived in 2023, radiating peace and mindfulness. The call of Diwali, known as Tihar in Nepal, echoed through the pages of the event announcement on their Facebook page. The notification ignited excitement, and I was eager to be part of this celebration.

The Desperation to Attend:
The anticipation of immersing myself in the festival vibes led to creative contemplations on how to reach the event. From considering Uber and taxi rides to even musing about offering photography services to the event organizers for a lift, every option was explored. The logistical challenge added an element of desperation, making the eventual solution—a kind offer of transportation from a Nepalese sister—feel like a serendipitous blessing. Just a day before the event, my sister’s generous offer to provide transportation elevated the excitement, turning what seemed like a challenge into a heartwarming solution.

A Grateful Ride:
The relief and gratitude of securing a lift to the festival from a fellow community member transformed the journey from a logistical challenge to a shared celebration. The camaraderie formed during the ride set the tone for an evening of connection, warmth, and cultural richness.

The Enchanting Atmosphere:
The Diwali celebration organized by the local community wasn’t merely an event; it was a vivid experience of cultural richness. The Nepali concert, with its lively beats and traditional tunes, created an atmosphere that felt like a slice of Nepal transported to Bendigo. It wasn’t just a celebration; it was a reconnection with our roots.

Childhood Revisited:
As the familiar tunes echoed, memories of Tihar celebrations in Nepal flooded back. The five-day festival, with each day dedicated to honoring different animals and elements, was an immersive experience. Although I don’t partake in the main day (Bhai Tika), the vibrancy of the other days resonated deeply, evoking the joyful spirit of my childhood festivities. These days include Kag Tihar (Crow Tihar), Kukur Tihar (Dog Tihar), Gai Tihar (Cow Tihar), Goru Tihar or Govardhan Puja, and Bhai Tika.

Unexpected Chill and Culinary Delights:
The unexpected shift in weather from scorching heat to a chilly evening became part of the adventure. The food trucks, reminiscent of solo movie nights in my youth, turned into a delightful exploration of tastes. The culinary journey added an unexpected layer to the evening, capturing the essence of shared celebrations. It was akin to savoring the flavors of life, each bite telling a story of its own.

A Full Circle Home:
As we headed home with friends, completing a full circle from The Great Stupa to our doorstep, the journey felt more than a physical one. It was a reconnection with tradition, culture, and the joy of shared celebrations. The Enlighten Diwali 2023 had indeed been an enchanting experience, blending the richness of Nepali heritage with the warmth of Australian hospitality. The people who took us back were the same individuals who introduced us to the place for the first time, bringing a beautiful symmetry to the entire experience.

A Note on Photography:
Despite my inclination as a photographer, this time I chose to be fully present in the moment, capturing the essence of the festival with my heart rather than my camera. Therefore, the visual documentation is limited, but the memories created are immeasurable. Some glimpses of the event are shared below, offering a taste of the vibrant celebration.