Monday, October 23, 2006

An Ethnic Interruption

Saturday October 21st was the Hindu festival of Diwali. My family's not very religious, so we usually don't celebrate this but I got a chance to celebrate with my Hindu friends in Seattle this year. Diwali is known as the "Festival of Lights," and this holiday symbolises the victory of good over evil. Lamps and candles are lit as a sign of celebration and hope for mankind.

Diwali is celebrated for five consecutive days and usually occurs in October/November, and is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited festivals in India. On Diwali day, people take a holiday, wear new clothes, eat sweets together and some states in India start a new year.

This year, I got dressed up in a gorgeous navy kurta (long tunic over loose pants) and went over to my friends' home where they had lit lamps and candles and had made Indian sweets. We did a small prayer to Laxmi, the goddess of money, for a year of prosperity (wishing for a book deal weighed heavily on my mind:). Then we had dinner followed by sweets and generally hung out for a few hours, gossiping and laughing.

It was really nice. A chance to start over in the middle of the year, make a few new resolutions. This was just the thing to completely pull me out of my writing/work slump and let me have a new beginning.

Are there any unusual or regional holidays you guys celebrate?

Dona Sarkar-Mishra
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Chapters & Chai - Read all about it


stephhale said...

I was holding out for Sweetest Day on Saturday, but hubby didn't get the bulletin from Hallmark! :)

Dona~ Here's hoping that Laxmi blesses you this year! :)


Marley Gibson said...

I love this, Dona! And I'm with Steph, hoping Laxmi is very good to you this year.

I want to see a picture of you in the outfit! = )

The "off-beat" ocassion that my hubby and I celebrate is "The New Grape." At one minute past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey out of France to all parts of the world. The Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!

Last year, I made coq au vin with the new grape. This year, we're probably going to a local hotel that has a party at midnight to reveal the wine, do a tasting and a pairing. (Cheese puffs are also amazing with this wine.)

Thing about the Beaujolais Nouveau is that you can only drink it from about mid-November to the beginning of January and then it turns to vinegar. But during those few months, it's just a little bit of nectur from heaven.

Now, I just need a cool outfit to wear for it, right? LOL!!

Marley = )

TinaFerraro said...

I always seem to be too busy to do holidays as fully as I'd like, so I've never looked to add any more. But I loved hearing about the Festival of Diwali, and I'm with Steph and Marley that I hope Laxmi is super-good to you!


Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

THanks for the wishes guys. Here's hoping for a properous New Year ahead for all of us!

Also, Marley, celebrating The New Grape sounds awesome! I think I'll hit up the hubby to start a sweet tradition like you guys have :)

Me said...

I wish I had some fun ritual that my family celebrated every year (other than traditional commercialized holidays, of course)... but my fam is not at all religious. When I was younger we had a tradition of going bowling on Christmas day.

A few years ago, after a trip to the Jewish Museum in New York, I bought a menorah and now we "celebrate" Hannukah (though we aren't Jewish). We alternate each year between me buying gifts for my parents and them buying for me, and we try to remember to light the candles every night. Though it's not a religious ritual for us, one of the ideas behind Hannukah is that of family coming together and I think we accomplish that... at least for eight nights out of the year!

Simone Elkeles said...

We just finished celebrating the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashannah. Then, the week after, we're fasting 24 hours to erase our sins in the past year. Hmmm. My mom always nudges me when they say, "We sinned against our parents because we were disrespectful to them."

Here's to new beginnings to everyone! (and prosperity, too!)

~Simone Elkeles

TJ Brown said...

So THAT'S what they were doing! We live down the road from a brand new Hindu temple. They built it in an old apple orchard in like, suburbia.. but we have been learning a lot. We (the whole neighborhood) got invited there on their grand opening and they shared dinner with us. Very fun. A few months ago they had a celebration and small parade and it turned out to be a wedding. A few nights ago, I noticed they had Christmas type lights everywhere and there were cars lined up and down the street. I knew it had to be some sort of celebration, but wasn't sure what it was. Thanks for enlightening me. (lol no pun intended)

holly cupala said...

Hey, Dona, next time come visit us YA writers in Seattle! There are a whole bunch of us that haunt the SCBWI mtgs here.