Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Diwali!!

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Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year!

Here are some links on Diwali and the background.

Top Diwali Books for children

Description of Diwali- Traditions, Customs and History

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Diwali at Home - Laddoos and Cookies

Growing up, Diwali did not make much sense. It was inconsistent, no one else celebrated it and it could not compare with Halloween and Christmas. Mom would make a special dinner, turn on lights around the house and have special pujas/ceremonies. Everyone would call to wish Sal Mubarak for the new year. All the jewelery would be taken from the bank and blessed - thanking Lakshmi and showing appreciation for the wealth we have. It was definitely acknowledged in our house, but not given enough encouragement I believe.

For my husband, who grew up in India, this is Christmas. Lots of traditions from special foods to lighting fire crackers to family and friends getting together. Plus per the Hindu calendar, he was born on the first day of Diwali. So, everyone always remembers his Indian birthday. (My daughter is born on Valentines' Day. The only memorable event I have for mine, June 30, is that it's the last day of the fiscal year).

Anyway, for my daughter is a different world than it was for me. Sesame Street talks about Diwali. Elementary schools have Diwali displays. Employees are taking off on Diwali as a "religious holiday". There's more awareness and pride in this holiday.

With my daughter, we're going to light candles around the house. We went to a party on Saturday and friends had sparklers and firecrackers which we lit in the yard. It was fun - and was my first time seeing firecrackers without a simultaneous radio or TV broadcast. Annika was a bit scared at first, but quickly got over her fears.

I found a book about Diwali at the library and Annika and her daddy read it together. It was great later during the firecrackers and I asked (to no one in particular) what was going on when they were trying to light a firecracker.

She said "Mom, this is just like the book. That's what they're doing," rolling her eyes and her voice in exasperation. Sorry. I missed the reading.

A few friends and I decided to join forces and prepare some homemade treats at each other's houses - chuklis, besan laddoo, karanji. To get my daughter involved, we baked toll-house chocolate chip cookies - why not?. She helped me with the tray of goodies to bring to our friends' house - laddoos, pistachio sweets with silver foil and chocolate chip cookies.

While it's important to maintain one's heritage, it's exciting to begin new traditions. That's what being American is all about, isn't it?

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