An eerie glowing fog appears to hang over the Ganges. The smoke of a million firecrackers, illuminated by the electric lights of Varanasi.
Explosions, constant, from all directions. Daisy chains of crackers snapping down narrow alleyways, howls of laughter as the smoke clears. Distant booms like cannons discharged in some far off sea battle.
On the street, sparklers light up kids’ faces as they whirl them in little circles. Across the rooftops, families stand around bright white flames and send rockets hissing into the sky (or, occasionally, misfiring horizontally and bouncing across other rooftops like skipping stones).
As the night draws to a close, we descend to the banks of the river and take turns to set a light adrift into the smoky darkness.