Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Guy the British celebrate their own Diwali for

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;

By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

--Traditional rhyme






The above have been taken on Fireworks Night, also called Crackers Night or Bonfire Night, of the previous years. If you still think its Diwali I’m talking about, you’re surely mistaken.




It’s Guy Fawkes Night. And no, Guido Fawkes was neither born nor martyred on this day (or night). This guy (or Guy), along with some other conspirators, attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London exactly 403 years ago, which was actually an assassination attempt on King James I of England. However, he was captured possibly moments before lighting the gunpowder, finally being hanged, drawn and quartered.



This event is commemorated by lighting bonfires and fireworks in England and the Commonwealth. Effigies of Fawkes, sometimes alongwith George W Bush, Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden, known as ‘Guys’, are burnt as well. It is a matter of opinion whether it commemorates the failure and subsequent execution of the Guy, or his courage to attempt the plot. Personally, I consider Fawkes a hero, for he had the guts to stand up against the government he didn’t believe in. Guy Fawkes is omnipresent in popular culture today, whether it’s popular media (references in Charles Dickens’ to J.K.Rowling’s works, John Lennon’s song, or the Simpsons to V for Vendetta), politics, Geography (A river, a national park, islands...), and even our everyday lexicon.


November 5 usually falls within a week of Diwali and Hallowe’en(which is also associated with fireworks in some cultures). In fact, most Northern hemisphere cultures have some kind of light/fire festival around this time – there are theories that it is connected to the human desire to defy the on-rushing winter hence occurring at the autumn equinox (midway between the summer and winter solstices). So Hallowe’en, Guy Fawkes Night and Diwali probably come from the same desire to celebrate life in the darkness (as does my obsession with night-outs, but more about that later). Imagine about a 1000 years from now, somehow the 5th of November gets linked with Deepavali and it either Ravana (a south Indian Guy) or Narakasura (A north Indian Guy) or Guy Fawkes (an Irish Guy) who’s effigy gets burnt. But it is still a great excuse to scare the shit out of your neighbour’s dog!


Peace...

5 comments:

saurav said...

gr8 1 shrey...agn!!
seems festival of lights' not restricted to our culture only..though celebration may be for different reasons..
and ya personally i also am in strong support of celebrating the day remembering this heroic 'guy' Fawkes' guts which many of us today lack in the modern society and prefer not to raise our voices against opressive forces...

Ashish said...

"..Effigies of Fawkes, sometimes alongwith George W Bush, Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden, known as ‘Guys’, are burnt as well..."
these lines made me realize that "ravan dahan" on dussehra is not unique to india; it has it's variations in other parts of the world too.
Furthermore, these lines,".....Imagine about a 1000 years from now, somehow the 5th of November gets linked with Deepavali and it either Ravana (a south Indian Guy) or Narakasura (A north Indian Guy) or Guy Fawkes (an Irish Guy) who’s effigy gets burnt.... " reaffirm my believe that shrey also thinks in the same way.......
After all ....SHREY KNOWS!!!!...lolzz

Adrien said...

I'm a huge Guy Fawkes fan myself, but the bit about him being 'martyred' was a bit-too much, though I agree its within the limits of litt.exaggeration. And nice Diwali linkup. I think it's a nice idea to add your east vis-a-vis west stuff to your blog. I think it'll make an excellent read, and u;ll be sharing your ideas wid the world, which is what blogs are for.

And Thanks a lot for wishing me at BOTH the midnight moments. Really missing you. Will probably burst the Diwali leftovers with the desis here tonight.

kaber said...

Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

kaber said...

in case no one got my prev comment, its my fav line from V for vendetta.

Remember Remember, the 4th of november :)