Light up a lamp, candles, hot air balloon and more because around the world people believe that light overcomes darkness. Even when our festivals are attacked or melded strangely when cultures collide, our humanity glows brightest with hope.
As we enter a season filled with holidays, writers lit up the page with stories about festivals of light.
The following are based on the November 1, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a festival of lights.
PART I (10-minute read)
Festival of Lights by Charli Mills
Glass shatter during dinner. Papa grabbed the boys and we sheltered beneath the table. Patterns of woodgrain forever etched my memory. Mama stood until Papa hastened her to hunker down with us in frightened silence.
We waited for boot thuds and forced entry. A truck engine revved. Guttural voices hurled invocations hard as the pick-ax that smashed our front window and toppled our Menorah – “Big-nosed Jews!” “Death to Hymies!”
My 10-year old mind probed why Papa’s features fated us to die. Friends at school said, the Holocaust wasn’t real, grow up, get over it, this is 2018 in America.
It only takes One: by Di @ pensitivity101
There is no darkness
When a single light shines,
It brings hope and promise,
A gathering of minds.
Another light beckons,
Two soon becomes three,
Four, five and six,
Reaching out to set free
All sizes and bright
Dazzling in glory,
Embracing the night.
Some call upon spirits
For Lost Souls to find peace,
Warmth, joy and kindness
Are within easy reach.
All join together,
No-one is ever alone,
Lend a hand, ear or shoulder,
Or just pick up the phone:
Let light show the way,
It only takes one
To keep darkness at bay.
The Festival of Treats and Lights by Rhuchira Khanna
Raj lights lamps in all corners of his house with hymns playing in the background.
He is celebrating Diwali the festival of light that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance.
Just then the bell rings, he opens the door to a bunch of kids dressed in spooky costumes and shouting, “Trick or Treat.”
He smiles, grabs his bucket full of treats and shouts “Treat…Treat!” As if surrendering to their threat in a sweet way!
Shuts the door, and continues with his prayers of the Hindu festival that comes around the same time as Halloween.
Glowing Lights by Patrick O’Connor
It was a dark evening. The clouds didn’t allow the stars to easily be seen. On top of that, the New Moon meant visibility would be low.
Then the announcement.
“Burn in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…”
Multiple flashes and suddenly the whole park lit up in multiple colors.
Seventy-five hot air balloons lit their fires all at once causing a kaleidoscope of color.
It could not have been more beautiful.
Once a year, in September, the balloon festival comes to town.
As the balloons slowly lifted to the night sky, the glowing lights offered an image of peace.
Chester Learns About Hygge by Molly Stevens
Chester stomped into the house after getting his ice shack ready for winter. He said, “What in the blazes are you doing with all these candles everywhere?”
Ruth took a sip of hot cocoa. “Now that the weather’s turned cold and the days are darker, I’m practicing the Danish art of Hygge.”
“Hoo-gah? Where’d you get that cockamamie idea? From our loony neighbor, Myrah?”
“No, I read a book about it. You have to admit. The candles make the house look cozy and inviting.”
“Inviting? Yes, to a crew of firemen.”
Ruth smiled. “That might not be so bad.”
Lustre by Reena Saxena
The festival was extra special this time around. Her husband had splurged on the best of everything for Diwali, and the children had an excited look pasted on their sweet faces. She couldn’t deny being happy …. but she sensed a dark secret somewhere, which the illumination could not cover.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau guys were at the doorstep, early morning. Their house was being raided.
The lamps looked morose in the light of dawn, and the floral designs lost lustre. She handed over the keys to the officer, and moved out, not wanting to see the can of worms.
The Light of My Life by Susan Sleggs
I sit alone most evenings in my dark high rise apartment looking out at the colorful lights that make the city seem like a welcoming, safe place. Too bad I know most of it isn’t friendly at night even for a man. I have admitted to my co-workers that I do this but I haven’t shared why. It isn’t any of their business. They say it’s a strange habit. I know when my cell sounds a specific tone the whole place will be brightened with the chatter of my daughter while we Face Time. She is my true light.
Brown Mountain by H.R.R. Gorman
Recent floods had stopped the trains from winding through the mountains, and Stewart took advantage of this darkness to investigate the Brown Mountain lights.
Lights glinted ahead. They didn’t flicker like a lantern or candle, but this region wasn’t lit by electricity. Stewart picked up his pace.
The massive, golden source became more apparent as he closed in on it. He noticed the light streamed from an open doorway, and a queue of skeletal figures entering. The ghosts ventured forth with smiles, and Stewart felt no inclination to stop them.
He reported on the haunting, “Lights caused by trains.”
Festival of Lights by Frank Hubeny
“I saw one once,” Joel’s grandfather admitted.
“We knew Teresa didn’t understand things like we did because of some birth defect. At her mother’s funeral, dark thunderclouds approached. Her father wanted to speak but couldn’t at the podium. Teresa rushed to him, ‘Don’t cry, Papa! She’s right here.’”
“With a lightning crack the power shut down. Someone lit candles so we could see.
“When I told them what I saw, they thought I was as nutty as Teresa, but a ten-year-old doesn’t misunderstand the way adults do.”
Joel’s grandfather paused. “Teresa’s mother was there caressing her husband and daughter.”
Come On Baby by Geoff Le Pard
‘Mum’s left Dad.’
‘He came back from that Jazz festival, turned all the lights on, got all frisky…’
‘Right? She asks what’s up, he says he’s high…’
‘Your dad!? How’d that happen?’
‘One chap brought cake. Dad asks what is it. According to Dad the guy said they’re not brownies but Dad had a bite, insisted they were and had six. Larry, Dad’s mate checks. They guy actually said “They’re pot brownies” by which time Dad’s on his way to light Mum’s fire.’
‘Sounds like you’ll have a sibling come spring…’
‘Or they’ll divorce…’
A Quality of Mercy by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“Alas,” Lady Arabella sighed, holding a palm out from under her parasol. Days of full darkness had been followed by months of half light. “It seems the sun will never again shine, nor rain warm our moonless nights.”
“I fear you’re correct, sister, but what can we do?” Rob, hand tucked behind his back, reached down to adjust a spat. He noted the striped caterpillar crawling across their path, and raised his heel
“Hist! Show mercy, brother!” Arabella touched his arm.
With that, soft drops of rain began to fall, shimmering with all the colors of love and hope.
Star of the Show (Part I) by D. Avery
Hope made her guess. When her mother had incorrectly guessed Mary, Joseph, wise man, sheep, donkey, cow, inn keeper, and even baby Jesus, Hope finally told her what part she had in the Christmas pageant.
“It was my idea, Mommy! I got them to let me do my idea!”
“What, Hope? What role is left?”
Hope’s eyes shone with her broad smile. “The star! I’m going to be up on a ladder behind the stable dressed up like the star!”
“Do you have lines to memorize?”
“Nope. I just have to shine.”
“Oh, Hope, you do. You’re a natural.”
Star of the Show (Part II) by D. Avery
“Our Hope is a star, alright. Come on, we’re going snowshoeing.”
“Now? It’s so dark out.”
“I have a surprise.”
“Let’s go, Hope. I’d rather tramp in the snow than have to guess again.”
From the top of the meadow the frozen lake was an empty blackness in the moonless dark, framed by twinkling lights of houses on the surrounding rolling hills.
Below them their own kitchen window glowed warmly.
Suddenly beams of light reached out from the high roof of their barn.
“Daddy! A Christmas star in the cupola!”
“Not just Christmas. We’ll light up every dark night.”
Brief Outage by Bill Engleson
In the night, there is the increasingly familiar hum. The neighbour’s high-end generator has kicked in again.
The house is silent, a symphony of darkness, save for the thump of the fatter cat’s feet in the room above.
And a near-spent nightlight.
The electric bedside clock is unforthcoming.
My toenail slashes her ankle.
I get a wallop. “That hurts,” she points out.
“Damn! You’re sorry, are you? You always do it.”
It’s the best I can do…
Then the house starts to buzz.
The clock flashes its resurgent time.
The night’s electric again.
Where is Clarity? by Jules
Gnat. Sat. After annoying my nose, flying past my glasses.
Adding an extra period where it did not belong on my screen.
I could imagine the gnat elsewhere, like visiting simmering dew, outside.
While thinking about what to write I forgot about my coffee.
The rim of fluid enchanted by the glowing reflection of the chandelier.
not quite caught in a raindrop;
gnat gained afterlife
could’ve drowned in a raindrop
did his soul add any light?
Saturday we will switch from later dawn to an earlier dusk.
Just who are we fooling by ending Daylight Savings Time?
Rainbow sequins burst onto a velveteen sky. With every screech and bang of the lightshow’s soundtrack, she feels him flinch. People scowl: his barks and yelps foul their outdoor entertainment. She grips his collar, strokes his head.
In the before, they baked potatoes in the embers, her brother’s boxer snug in his basket beneath the stairs.
Only one more night before the park’s returned to her and him and others like them. Pitch and peace from sunset to sunrise. Until Christmas. Hopefully, they’ll be bedded down in a shelter then. When another batch of fireworks explodes in the sky.
Tragedy by kate @ aroused
Some use their tragedy to educate the masses. Talk to politicians, schools, service clubs, whoever will listen. About the ongoing violence and abuse, the demeaning vitriol and sadistic mind games that was their life for far too long.
But some feed off the drama, others wonder why they never left, most can’t listen with their heart. We don’t want to believe this is our sons, fathers and husbands.
They hold mass candle light vigils to mark extremely violent deaths, or the just sheer vast numbers. But still the laws and attitudes don’t really change. The women are to blame.
River by Anita Dawes
This river of lights, each one a wish
Hope to pin your dreams upon
A prayer to Lakshmi to chase away the darkness
To turn your demons into dust
A river of starlight echoing the world above
Each light a prayer to the ghosts of old Gods
In the heart of the people
India, a place of colour
Smiles light the faces of people passing by
Hope lives here
The old Gods love them for it
Each light above, connected to the ones below
To the dreamers who believe Lakshmi will come calling
To greet each wish made tonight…
Return: by The Dark Netizen
Praises be sung, our lord has returned victorious!
The cheers and chanting continued throughout the capital as its ruler made his triumphant return. The citizens lit torches and kindled celebratory flames in order to welcome their light bringer. They sang praises of his exploits in battle, how he alone destroyed half the enemy army. They celebrated their victory over their greatest enemy, one who was threatening their very way of existence. The roads leading to the palace looked like rivers of gold, and the palace itself shone like the sun.
The Festival of lights marked the Demon king’s return.
Haunted by Rosemary Carlson
“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” That old quote popped into her head at 4 a.m. It wouldn’t be daylight soon this morning since the Earth was spinning toward the shortest day of the year. She was still awake at this ungodly hour, as she often was, yearning for the light.
She couldn’t sleep until it was daylight. The old dreams, the terrible dreams of her childhood, haunted her, and she knew she couldn’t sleep until dawn when they would subside. She remembered them when she awoke, screaming, but only for a few seconds. Only the light chased them away.
Harvest (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam
Spring’s unusually heavy rains flooded farms and orchards in the villages. Working together, the villagers replanted the fields and shared the harvest.
Diamante, a school teacher, was also responsible for the ancient temple until the Abbott could send a priest. For the fall harvest celebration, the children festooned the ancient temple with flowers and lit countless candles. From the open roof, sandalwood smoke drifted into the sky.
As evening deepened into night, Diamante recited the ancient prayers. The children excitedly traced the paths of shooting stars, imagined them falling into the sea, turning into myriads of tiny green lamps.
Christmas Eve by Margaret G. Hanna
We begin our ritual.
We’ve been here before. We know what to do. We sit in silence and darkness. Quietly. Calmly. Anticipating. The organist plays one single note. We sing “Silent Night.” Softly.
The minister lights the first candle. We pass the flame from one person to the next until the sanctuary is bathed in the soft, warm, gentle glow of candlelight. The primal call of flickering flame draws our attention to why we are here. To remember and celebrate the miracle of birth, of rebirth.
We go out into the night, to the sound of snow falling silently.
Festival of Lights by Kay Kingsley
Along life’s backyard fence hangs endless strands of twinkling lights.
Each strand is separate but when viewed from a distance, they all seem connected, end to end, as far as the eye can see.
We each have a strand of our own, each bulb shines bright for a wonderful life event but suspended between those bright events an invisible darkness remains, the home of hardships and monotony.
With a little luck, we try not to linger there as the dim glow of hope beckons in the distance.
Our chains are unique and together our festival of lights hang eternal.
PART II: (5-minute reads)
Bandi Chorr Diwas by Ritu Bhathal
Emperor Jehangir found no reason to keep Guru Hargobind imprisoned anymore, for he had shown no danger towards the leader.
The Guru insisted upon the release of fifty-two innocent Hindu kings imprisoned alongside him.
Whoever was able to hold onto the cloth of his gown would be free.
He had a special cloak stitched with enough tassels so they could all hold on.
The day Guru Hargobind arrived back in Amritsar happened to be Diwali where the whole city was flooded with the light from candles, lit in joy at his return back to the holiest of Sikh cities.
Gert by Kate @ aroused
Many gathered for the monumental celebration of Gert’s life. She inhabited our earth for nearly a century seeing so many changes we can barely comprehend.
Gert struggled with the night as sleep evaded, she would be restless so we chose a theme of light as she transitioned to better things. Her favourite opera was broadcast as we had a light parade … some with lanterns or candles, their wax safely caught. The entire village strung with vibrant coloured lights.
Then we gathered in the local for her favourite toddy while we shared stories of her many adventures and achievements.
The Tradition by tracey robinson
Every December the family went to the huge light display in Winterhaven. Mom complained about the crowds, the kids complained about the cold and Dad complained about the cost. But it was a family tradition. This year Mom said she just couldn’t face it and Dad didn’t want to pay so they didn’t go.
On Christmas Eve, once it got dark, Mom said, “Everyone get your coats on, we have a hole in our holiday that needs to be filled”. They walked through their still, silent neighborhood, savoring all the small light displays, happy to continue their family tradition.
Horticultural Thoughts by D. Avery
“Whatcha thinkin’ on, Kid?”
“Thinkin’ on plants Pal.”
“Shorty said ta be thinkin’ on light.”
“I am. Ever heard a phototropism?”
“I favor geotropism. Like ta keep rooted, grounded in my place.”
“Plants kin take root jist about anywhere. Patient and perseverant. I reckon plants gotta be rooted firmly an’ reach fer the light. Always pointin’ towards the light.”
“Yep, Kid, they’s a lot ta contemplate with plants. Mebbe it ain’t so far afield, you thinkin’ on plants. Reckon folks is like plants, Kid?”
“Some is Pal. Some need cultivatin’.”
“Light. We gotta stay grounded and shine on.”
Ranch Lite (Yarn I) by D. Avery
“You fixin’ ta build a fire, Pal?”
“Yep. Figger if ever’one’s as tuckered out from the rodeo as me, they might wanna jist set a spell by the light of a warming fire.”
“Pal, ‘member when we first showed up here?”
“We? ‘Member, I’ve always been here, jist no one knew it.”
“Oh yeah. Then how come we’re always together?”
“I wish I knew, Kid. Prob’ly ‘cause when people hear voices it’s always plural, not ‘voice’. Someone needs us.”
“Someone could do worse.”
“You set, Pal, I’m gonna tell about showin up here.”
“Can I stop you?”
Ranch Lite (Yarn II) by D. Avery
It was a dark an’ stormy night.
“Kinda cliché, Kid.”
“Well it was, ‘an mebbe it’s metaphorical.”
“Meta for who?”
It was a tumultous time, deep winter. A young greenhorn, feelin’ her age-
“What? You describin’ cheese? How kin a young greenhorn be old?”
“That’s the way it is, Pal. Jeez, where was I?”
“On yer way here.”
An old greenhorn was wanderin’ the desert. The wind was blowin’ an’
somewhere in that wind was the answer, my friend.
“The answer was blowin’ in the wind? Was this 1963? Jist cut to the chase already.”
Ranch Lite (Yarn III) by D. Avery
I was wanderin’ somewhat aimless, had gone off trail. I was stumblin’ in the dark. Then, crestin’ a rocky ledge-
“What’s that meta for?”
I saw a strange glowin’ light, color of carrots on the horizon…
“Were you near Roswell, New Mexico?”
I went closer, real cautious like. I wasn’t sure what it was, if’n it were safe. If’n it were meant fer me…
I followed the light and come ta the fire here at the Ranch.
“Not much of a story, Kid.”
“Lighten up Pal.”