What is Diwali?
In October or November, Hindus everywhere celebrate the festival of Deepavali or Divali/Diwali. There are many different reasons why Diwali is celebrated. According to one of the ancient Hindu calendars, it is the start of the New Year. At Diwali, people also workshop Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune and wealth, many also remember the story of Rama and his wife, Sita – A Year of Festivals: Hindi Festivals Through the Year
Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival celebrating the triumph of light over darkness and the renewal of life. It is celebrated by people in India and Indians living abroad. Families light lamps, candles and fireworks to symbolise the triumph of light over darkness, wisdom over ignorance and good over evil – Asia New Zealand Foundation.
When is Diwali celebrated?
This year Divali/Diwali is on Sunday 3 November although celebrations and rituals started on Friday 1 November and continue a few days after the 3rd with some cities holding their very popular Diwali Festivals in October e.g. Rotorua and Auckland. Here are some beautiful photos of children taken from Auckland’s celebrations.
Community Celebrations in the Bay:
For those of you who live in Tauranga, New Zealand Talk of India restaurant is holding festivities on Sunday 10 November. People are gathering at 7pm but I hear things don’t kick off till 8pm/8.30pm. At Baycourt theatre on Thursday 7 November from 7pm-11pm you can attend Diwali Cultural Mela 2013 (and experience artists from India singing and dancing) among other things. General Admission is $20.
I’ve recently become a co bi-cultural co-ordinator for our local Playcentre. I feel honoured to be in the position – I’m a self proclaimed geek and love learning. Not only do I see it as an invitation to be courageous with trying more te reo maori, including singing more waiata, I see it as an opportunity to embrace multi-culturism for our family and community. I’m happy to have any excuse for colour, music, food and general partying. I’m happy to celebrate; Chinese New Year and Auckland’s Lantern Festival; Japan’s Hanami the celebration of the Cherry Blossom with picnics beneath the Sakura; France’s Bastille Day; Aotearoa’s, Matariki; Mexico’s The Day of the Dead; Christian’s Christmas, the delightful happy list of rituals and thanksgivings lives on…
Diwali is a beautiful festival of colour and enchanting light. It celebrates positive ways for living such as happiness, prosperity, and new beginnings.
Activities we can do with our children:
The simplicity and beauty of draping coloured fabrics, silks or sari from the trees or rafters in our gardens and homes brings a sensory experience for our tamariki.
Hang strings of bells across your front doorway:
It’s said when our foreheads sweep the gentle bells as we enter and exit our homes we are blessed with prosperity and happiness. I bought my lace of golden bells at Choice Food and Spices. You can have a blast shopping at Choice on Cameron Road, (there’s parking round the back too) for all things Indian and more. Their bins of fresh produce such as nuts, rice, dried fruit, spices is a colourful dazzling experience.
Reading books about Indian culture:
We all traipsed into the library on Friday and the librarian with the mostest amazingistist memory for ‘her’ collection presented us with two books: 1) What shall I make? a tale about making chapati bread by Nandini Nayar and Proiti Roy (suitable for pre-schoolers) and 2) Mama’s Saris by Pooja Makhijani a story featuring a mother and daughter negotiating when the young girl can wear her first sari and which one she chooses (more suitable for children in the junior or middle school).
I refer to Madhur Jaffrey and Camellia Panjabi’s Indian Cookbooks when cooking an Indian feast for my whanau. I’m including the chapati recipe from What shall I make? above and here’s a digital one I found on the net.
Another way of welcoming Lakshmi (the goddess of prosperity & good fortune) into people’s homes is to draw a beautiful rangoli pattern on the doorstep. These patterns are drawn using coloured chalk, sand, rice or flour. They can be as simple or as intricate as one likes. It may help to think Mandala.
Once the kids go to sleep:
* Watch an Indian Bolliwood film such as Monsoon Wedding – one of my favs.
* Host a bring your own Indian curry night with friends or family. I find these nights a great success cos the theme caters for the high achiever and the don’t-have-the-time-or-energy-or-maybe-confidence-right-now-ites. Guests can take two days to prepare a curry recipe from Camellia Panjabi, or can resort to Nigel Slater’s Quick Korma from his must-have The 30 Minute Cook. His Korma can be vegetarian or with meat and is easy and you-wouldn’t-know-that-it-was-designed-by-a-non-Indian. Or friends can come bearing a stunning Indian takeaway.
* Run an Indian themed mastercook competition between friends or family.