2013/11/25

Sharing Holidays - Happy Diwali - english post

So I posted this article some weeks ago but looking at the statistics I realized, that this one has more english (speaking) or international viewers than any of the other ones, so I thought I might go into the trouble of translating it. I'm no native speaker, and my written english might be a bit rusty, but whatever. So this is not new content, but recycled old one, if you want.

Tea lights placed in the shape of a (oil (?)) lamp.
Shortly after Halloween I was invited to a Diwali celebration.
As I am a big fan of shared holidays - therefor I shared Saint Nicholas, the advents calender (or even advent time) and brought the tale of the Easter Bunny to my AuPair kids within my au pair year and took decorations and horrors of Halloween and the united spirit of Thanksgiving: I just plainly love the idea of getting a different culture by their special days.
As I don't had any connection with the indian culture so far I'm somewhat without any prejudices altogether. Ideal conditions to get to know a new culture.

Getting to a culture via their special days is somewhat like a short trip, it just amazes me totally. 

Diwali is the indian celebration of light. Maybe one or two of my readers have already seen the lit candles and lights in front of an door step at October and November. We had that in the house we lived before, some of the (german) neighbours didn't like it for security reasons. Unattended open fire is against safety regulations of houses. However it is likely that the residents are hindus.

Naturally we were welcomed by our Indian friends
in traditional clothing
This Diwali (sometimes spelled Deepavali, Divali or Deepavali) in the national language Hindi means something like "arrangement of lights" in Tamil it is the "path of light".
So it is a festival of lights, something that is so very present in many cultures: I have also attended Hanukkah (pronounced with a hard CH front) - the Jewish Festival of Lights - in my first host family.

Diwali this year was celebrated on the 3rd November, though my Indian friends mentioned that a part of their families are celebrating even on 2 already as it  like so many holidays depends on the moon.

Parts, the "altar" - I am always impressed by
the details of the figures.

"Food" for the gods,
and yes I edited some photos a tad bit


As everywhere the festival has different meanings - even within India itself. In principle, one can say that it is about the "victory of good over evil" or "of light over darkness," but philosophically it is also about recognising your own inner strength.
Interestingly, this is roughly the same thing that a Swedish au pair had told me about the local "Lucia Fest", which has not really much to the Christian origin, but much more to do with traditional pagan Nordic tradition there.
I would rather not interpret much more into this. I just think it's always exciting to see how many similar festivals are celebrated around the world, without any shared history or an existing common spiritual common ground.


We were greeted with nice and have gotten  the red dot on the forehead - for us typically Indian. This was surprisingly rather cold, somehow I had expected something warm and unfortunately a part of it fell off too. And typically german my biggest concern was not to smear it on the bright couch.  I guess as you say, the leopard cannot change its spots.
The symbol is called "Bindi" (Hindi) or "Tika" and is a kind of blessing point. There are - as I learned by google - two meanings for it.
  • The former has purely mythical significance: The "red" - as the simplest translation might be - will give it strength, it acts as a kind of an "third eye". In india the area between the eyes is assignee to "the seat of concealed wisdom" and thus the "bindi" is also a homage or even help, or just blessing.
  • The second meaning is to be considered rather historically culturally. It is a social symbol. In the north it was worn only by married women, however in the South of the country it is a privilege of all women  to "wear" a 'Bindi'. Today it is just a fad and can occur in almost any colour, and critics complain that it has degenerated into a kind of accessory to match the outfit.
So I would guess strongly that within the festival of Lights the first meaning is rather important.
Sparklers had to serve instead of fireworks,
but after a bit of "magic light"
Luckily I have found a couple of old sparklers in my basement - as how they have survived the move is indeed a mystery to me -, but however they were very much welcomed. I was even told I had saved the day. I would not go as far, but the joy and the radiance it created in their faces was really satisfying to see.

As I had been immensely happy with my tiny christmas tree in my room during that au pair year back then, these small candles have lit the heart of my Indian friends. If everyone would always be so easily be made so happy.

Granted I am fascinated by the saree more than the sparklers,
but seeing how happy a small cellar found can make,
was also a really nice experience.
Delicious, vegetarian indian food was served and some shop talk of the indians guys themselves, linguistically, about food and traditions.

On that matter - Happy Diwali! 
It looks like next year Diwali is on 23th of October, so maybe you can make your  neighbours a little bit happier by keeping sparklers :P

Keine Kommentare: