Monday, November 4, 2013

Our Diwali 2013

(Maya in her new dress for Diwali)

It has definitely been a celebratory weekend for us! First, there was Halloween, and now we just had Diwali. Diwali is the biggest holiday that is celebrated all over India - it is the most important one and it is celebrated with as much enthusiasm from North to South.

Since my MIL is here, she told me stories of how the whole house would wake up at 4am and put turmeric on their feet, do an oil massage on head and body, and then like a procession everyone would take their bath by 5:30am. The family would get dressed in brand new clothes, eat sweets and light firecrackers at dawn. Throughout the day there would be poojas, visiting neighbours to give sweets and visiting family. She said the sweets were piled high up to the ceiling! The firecrackers would go on until 1am as it is the most festive of holidays. 

(Maya dancing!)

This year, we weren't sure what to do for Diwali.  Last year we got all dressed up and went to the temple to give the Goddess Lakshmi an offering. This year, with my recovery, the doctor had ordered me to stay away from crowded indoor places (like shopping malls, etc) so that immediately ruled out going to the temple. And both MIL & husband-ji did not want to deal with the crowds at the temple. Another thing was we had two deaths in the family of elders on my FIL's side (Tamil side), so we aren't supposed celebrate festivals too hugely, out of respect.

(For an appetizer, my mum made shredded zucchini / feta cheese / walnut pancakes served with tzatziki, and also we had fresh burrata cheese with sliced baguette)

So instead, we did Diwali in a slightly more Indo-Canadian style! In the afternoon we dressed Maya up in her new dress from Hyderabad, I made my famous Kheer dish (like a good Indian wifey), and then we went to my mother's house for a big family dinner with lots of candles lit in the house. After that, we dropped off some Kheer at my favorite auntie's house.

(Our Indo-Canadian Diwali family dinner - my mum made red cabbage and brussel sprouts salad, roast potatoes, spicy pasta casserole, and breaded turkey with tzaziki)

So technically, we did okay celebrating it even though we didn't go to the temple! Maya wore her new dress, I made a sweet, we had a big feast, and we shared the sweet I made with our relative.


(My famous Kheer - recipe post coming soon!)

Even though I'm still learning what Diwali is, and how it should be celebrated - it is important to me to make the effort - for husband-ji and for our daughter. It is really important to make an effort to celebrate both cultures. And Diwali is a HUGE festival!

Next year, we are aiming to celebrate Diwali in Hyderabad with Maya...won't that be an adventure!


Short video on the celebration of Diwali.

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Dear readers, how did you celebrate Diwali? Wishing each and over one of you a happy and prosperous year ahead....

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9 comments

  1. Warm wishes to you and your family - Alexandra - Happy Diwali! Maya looks sooo adorable!! I couldn't agree more - on adapting the cultures and celebrations! Hope you will have Diwali in India next year:-) I am overwhelmed- a magical festival:-)Best to you:-)

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    1. Happy Diwali! You must've had so much fun....I can't wait to celebrate it in India itself, I have been dying to for years!

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  2. Happy Diwali ! I seriously love your china/plates/dishes! Are they from India? If not, can I ask where you purchased them from? I MUST get some for my mum and our family haha :)

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    1. Thank you! The plates I think are from Southern Italy, but the peacock glasses are from a store in India called "Good Earth" - http://www.goodearth.in/
      Mum is a collector!

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  3. Happy diwali to you and family. We did not celebrate because death of a family member this year. Different communities celebrate diwali in different manner. In North India, it is about Laxmi Pooja while in Bengal we worship goddess kali on that day. A day before diwali twelve lamps are lit and different kinds of vegetables are cooked. On Diwali night, the pooja starts after midnight and goes on till the wee hours of morning. The prasad served has non veg items. It is only during Kali Pooja that non veg items are served in prasad.

    It is believed that Diwali night is the Amayasya night (moonless night), which is ideal for evil spirits to influence the lives of humans. Goddess Kali is worshiped for protection against these spirits. Since Goddess Kali and Goddess Laxmi are different incarnations of the same eternal female force Aadi Shakti which controls creation and destruction, it really does not matter. It is all about praying for the well being of one's family and dear one.

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    1. Thank you for the wonderful description. It is so interesting to hear how different communities celebrate the festival.
      Sorry to hear about the death in your family too :(
      What part of India is your family from?

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  4. We are Bengalis from West Bengal State, settled in New Delhi. Our native tongue is Bangla. We worship Goddess Durga during Navaratras in September/October (nine days of celebrating the nine forms of Goddess Durga) before Dussehra in West Bengal. The North Indians too worship the goddess during that day but the Bengali celebrations are held on a more grand scale in a public space, or in the premises of a Bengali Kali Temple. In Delhi, too Bengalis celebrate Durga Pooja with much fanfare.

    The scale of celebrations and its grandeur is similar to Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra. It is believed that Goddess Durga visits her devotees for nine days before Dussera, accompanied her sons Ganesh, Karthik and daughter in laws. On the tenth day, Dashami or Dussera, the goddess leaves for her divine abode. Women apply Sindoor (Vermillion) on each others face and on the idol. After that, is the idol is taken to the river or sea for immersion. It is surely a sad day for every Bengali.

    Our Laxmi Pooja is celebrated a few days before Diwali. In India, all traditions mingle to produce confusion. These are just artificial barriers which keep different communities apart. At the end of the day Durga, Kali, Laxmi does not matter much. It is a celebration of the female power.

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    1. Very interesting. It would be a huge event if it is anything like Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra.
      I've got a lot of readers from Delhi. I have been twice, once for Holi.
      Yes, there are so many different traditions - all the same but different - so confusing to a foreigner. Seems like there is no wrong way to celebrate though!

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