Diwali 2012!

Happy Diwali 2012

Happy Diwali 2012

Popularly known as the “festival of lights,” Diwali is primarily a five day Hindu festival  which falls between mid-October and mid-November.

For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes.

The name “Diwali” translates into “row of lamps”. Diwali involves the lighting of small decorated, clay lamps called “Diya” which are filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.  These lamps are kept on during the night and one’s house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome.

Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits, although many now are beginning to realize the deep environmental impact that the firecrackers have and instead chose to only string lights and more diya’s.

During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

This year, my DH and I spent Diwali with family outside of Pune. We stayed with my SIL and her family. Aai, Baba and a few cousins also came for the celebrations.

It was a wonderful time, full of good fun, amazing food and happy laughter all throughout the house. SIL’s children are getting bigger and seem to be more fun each time we see them.

Aai and SIL joined in Diwali celebrations by being a part of SIL’s Society functions and competitions. They cooked and cooked and we tasted and tasted! Finally it was decided to go with one sweet and one snack. The snack was Kothimbir Vadi and let me tell you…if you’ve never had it…run (don’t walk) to the nearest place and GET IT! It probably won’t be as good as Aai’s and SIL’s but it will still be worth running out for!

Kothimbir is Marathi for Cilantro. This nifty little snack is basically made with fresh cilantro that has been chopped finely and then fried with masala’s, coconut and raisins and then placed onto besan masala flat bread, wrapped and deep fried. YUM!

Below is a representation that looks similar but if I showed you Aai/SIL’s Vadi…I’d have to…well you know. 😉

Kothimbir_vadi

NOT Aai/SIL’s Vadi…but close.

Aai and SIL won all their entered competitions with first place! We were so proud!

We also had a lovely family puja where everyone dressed up in their finest and newest clothing. Below is a close up of Aai and my sari…we wore the same color/fashion sari this year and didn’t even know it!

Our Sari's! I'm on the left, Aai on the right.

Our Sari’s! I’m on the left, Aai on the right.

Afterwards my DH and his brother and his children went out to light the crackers. I went to take some pictures and the one I used above it just one of many I took.

My SIL and cousins went door to door to distribute sweets and snacks. Aai and I stayed to receive the same from friends and neighbors who stopped by. We had enough so that we did not have to cook dinner that night!

After going to bed, the crackers continued on till the early morning. I was expecting to go outside and find huge amounts of paper from burst crackers littering everything like we see every year for a few days in our own Society, but the workers were already outside cleaning these up. When we left from my SIL’s city the day after, the roads were also very clean. Pune has a lot to learn!

So, that was our Diwali this year! How was yours?

© 2012 Gori Rajkumari

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Happy Holi and International Women’s Day 2012!

It’s that time of year again! It’s been busy here in GoriRajkumari land with visits from family, an illness and preparations for Holi!

Holi (होली), is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus. Holi is also known as festival of Colours.

The main day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, is celebrated by Hindu’s throwing scented, colored powder and perfume at each other.

Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). After doing holika dahan prayers are said and praise is offered. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion.

All of India wears a festive look when it is time for Holi celebration. Markets are alive with activity as people start making preparations for the festival. Heaps of various hues of gulal and abeer can be seen on the roadside days before the festival. Pichkaris in innovative and modern design too come up every year to lure the children who wish to collect them as Holi memorabilia and of course, to drench everybody in the town.

Women begin making early preparations for the holi festival as they cook loads of gujiya, mathri and papri for the family and for the relatives.

Great excitement can be seen in people on the day following Dhuli, when it’s actually the time to play “colours”. Shops and offices remain closed for the day in most cases, to give people an opportunity to play. Bright colours of gulal and abeer fill the air and people take turns in pouring colour water over each other. Children take special delight in spraying colours on one another with their pichkaris and throwing water balloons and passers-by. Women and senior citizen form groups called tolis and move in colonies – applying colours and exchanging greetings. Songs, dance on the rhythm of dholak and mouth-watering Holi delicacies are the other highlights of the day.

Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March.

This year, we not only get to celebrate Holi, but also International Women’s Day!

Have a GREAT Holi and International Women’s Day!

© GoriRajkumari 2012

On Being Sick….a few updates.

boxoftissuesSo I’ve been sick since last Tuesday.

It’s sooo not fun.

I have the flu and an upper respiratory infection so am on all kinds of nifty meds.  One to clear out the sinuses, another clear out the flu and one more for the aches and pains associated with both.

“One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small,

And the ones that Mother gives you don’t do anything at all.

Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall.”

All of this on the first week of Bear being back.

Needless to say I’ve had an extremely fun week of staying home from work, coughing my lungs out, and dealing with some seriously heinous snot.  Not fun guys and dolls.

I have many updates to write to you all…but in all fairness and honesty to me, I’m sick and being in front of a computer for too long just wears me out.  So I know you will be lenient on me and wait for the following updates.

1)      Bear and my trip to ISKON.  HORRORS upon HORRORS.  Needless to say I will never step foot in another one so long as I shall live.  I will give you the full blow by blow soon.

2)      My Shudhi Karma with Arya Samaj.  I am now officially Hindu.  Well, by Arya Samaj standards anyway and their ceremonies are recognized in India.  I will let you know all that happened on this amazing ceremony and the people who helped me with it.

3)      Our Wedding Date.  It’s been set!  YAY!  Well, kinda been set anyway.  We are shooting for either August 8th or 9th for a morning wedding.  We are only waiting to hear back from the location.  Already have our pundit for the ceremony and I will be filling you in on that too.

The one update than I can give to you all is that I finally had enough strength to upload the few pictures that I took so far of my Wedding Sari and Manglasutra!  YAY.

Those are below.  I’ll take better pictures later but for now this will have to appease you all.

Hope you guys are all faring better than I am here and that NONE of you get sick!  Take care and will update you all soon.

Manglasutra Close Up

Manglasutra Close Up

Manglasutra Full

Manglasutra Full

Wedding Sari Detail

Wedding Sari Detail

Wedding Sari Detail Border

Wedding Sari Detail Border