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!
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!