Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Festival of Lights

Divali or the Festival of Lights is a big deal for us Hindus. It is both a religious and festive celebration and is kind of like our Christmas (except we celebrate Christmas too, so double celebrations).  In Trinidad, for weeks before, there are hugh street and store displays with diyas, fireworks, fruit, sweets and East Indian clothing for sale. Hindus spend lots of time cleaning their homes before Divali and the week before, fasting with no meat. Schools and work would have Divali celebrations. We would also visit Divali Nagar, a popular weeklong fair celebrating Divali and the Indo Trinidadian Culture.

For my family, on Divali day, a public holiday my parents would cook a lovely vegetarian feast. It was my job to get the diyas, wicks and oil ready for the night. We would also visit my grandmother who would invite her entire block over for a meal- it was a huge get together. When we went back home, we had our personal family prayers, had dinner and began to light up. This is where it gets really fun as many people go all out with their deeya designs and displays like here and here. When we were younger, my parents would take us out for a drive to see all the diyas but as we got older we gave that up for spending time with friends who would come over to help us light up and celebrate with us.

When I first came to Canada, boy did I miss Divali! I missed my parents, the pre-season, the food, the lighting up, the food, having  friends over, did I mention the food? Now, 10 years in though, although I would love to visit Trinidad for Divali one day and have my girls experience a Divali there, I can life takes you  and we do exactly that here in our little corner of Canada!

 First of all, we usually take the day off now from school and work. We first spend the morning at home. We make some sort of prasad (or parsad as the trinis say) and do our own family prayer (puja), lighting a few diyas at home. In the afternoon, and this is a large part of why I love Divali in Canada, we head over to our aunt's place. We  do a family prayer there, sing some bhajans (Hindu devotional songs), light up our diyas (more inside than outside as it's so cold), have a lovely meal and then spend some time together enjoying each other's company. It is always such a festive evening.

As Cassia is getting older, she is getting more for Divali. This year for Show and Tell at school, she dressed up in her East Indian wear, they read a book about Divali and also sampled some Kurma (an Trinidadian Indian sweet) that I brought in for the class... it was a big hit, apparently the teachers loved the sweets more than the kids did!

This year, Divali was on a  Saturday. We did the usual, prayers at home and then our aunt's house and as usual we had a lovely time. Here are some pictures from our celebration.

Dressed up and ready to go...

This puppy behaved better that both my kids-- seriously!
Here are the trouble makers

The gracious host and hostesses

Somebody looks scared--- maybe Anjali is just about to tip over a fragile vase!

Us four! 

Another us four
The Festival of Lights
Some of the ladies.

Presents time

A few deeyas at home when we came back

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