Thursday, November 15, 2012

Diwali

Diwali just passed. Last year, I was celebrating Diwali with my parents and waiting to see Ankit for the very first time. I had my first date with Ankit a day after Diwali, last year. Good memories. I made a huge rangoli and had so many lights put up around the house. This year wasn't the same. I really wish our families were here. Such days just remind me again and again how important it is to have your family with you. Times like these make me nostalgic. Festivals are no fun if your family isn't around to celebrate with you. 

For all those wondering what Diwali is, it is a Hindu festival of lights. It is also a public holiday in India. Diwali comes from the world Deepawali which literally means "array of lamps." Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman after their fourteen long years of exile and defeating the demon-king, Ravana. To celebrate their return, the people of Ayodhya (Ram's capital) illuminated the city with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst firecrackers. Diwali falls on a new moon night and we light lamps all around our house to ward off the darkness and symbolize the removal of evil. On this day, we welcome Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and Lord Ganesha, the God of auspicious beginnings, by cleaning and decorating the house. By invoking their blessings, we look forward to a good year of wealth and prosperity. Different cultures celebrate Diwali for different reasons in other parts of India.

A rangoli is a folk art from India made on the floor, at the entrance of the house or the living room to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. It is typically made of colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or even flower petals. Rangoli is thought to bring good luck, reduce negative energy and bring positivity to the household. Rangoli is traditionally made by women and designs can be simple geometric shapes, diety impressions or even flower shapes. 


Rangoli by me
Since I didn't have access to color sand or rice, I made my rangoli with different lentils :p It turned out quite decent. What do you think? I also didn't have access to earthen lamps, so I used floating candles which I picked up from the dollar store. Traditionally, the feet of Goddess Lakshmi are also made with rangoli colors to depict Goddess Lakshmi entering the house. I conveniently forgot to do that this year (oops).


Ankit, ready for puja (prayers)
I decorated our mandir (temple) and made suji ka halva as offering to the Gods. 
*See recipes section for the recipe of suji ka halva.

Here, Ankit just got back, tired, from work, ready for the Diwali puja. After the prayers, we ate dinner and that was it. 

Mum was telling me, the sky was covered in smog on the night of Diwali because people burst so many crackers. I've always been against bursting fire crackers because it adds to the already polluted city in India. It's not good for the atmosphere and for health. People should just light diyas, make rangoli, wear new clothes, and eat good food. That's what we did :) It was a nice and quiet Diwali for us. Delhi would have been loud on this day because of all the fireworks. 

Diwali is my favorite Hindu festival because I love how the entire city is illuminated a week in advance with colorful lights. It's a sight not to miss. The festivity flows in the air with sweet fragrances of jalebi and gulab jamun (Indian sweets). I remember, I used to stand in the huge line outside Bikaner (Indian fast food shop) to buy jalebis. Bikaner makes the most delectable jalebis after Jalebiwala, in Chandni Chowk.  Ah, it's lovely. The whole atmosphere is so festive and beautiful. It might be like Christmas, here. I'm looking forward to it; like REALLY looking forward to it. I hope it snows that day and we can have a white Christmas :) 


Me in my new clothes :)
I hope everyone had a lovely Diwali and hope you have a lovely rest of the year.
God bless you.
x

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