Happy Diwali – A celebration abroad…without fireworks

Happy Diwali to ALL – Home and Abroad!

Happy Diwali
Happy Diwali

Over the years, while living overseas, the Diwali day has become just like any other other Indian festival day. You don’t really celebrate it, especially if it falls during a week-day when everybody is at work or school. So, what we do? We say ‘Happy Diwali’, just like we say Happy Holi, Happy Janmashtami, Happy Gurupurab…, but it doesn’t mean much. It is just like saying ‘Happy Holi’ instead of the exchange of the real colors during the Holi festival.
And sometimes, especially if it is on the week-end, we get together and celebrate with food and drinks. The fireworks are ‘optional’, mostly forgotten…

Everyone knows what Diwali symbolize; we say it all the times when we explain it to our ‘non-Indian’ colleagues and friends:
‘Diwali symbolize the victory of Good over Evil, Light over Dark…’ We have memorized it, just like little kids memorize the multiplication tables in the school, without paying any attention to the meaning.
The meaning of Diwali is not lost in translation; it is lost over time and over physical distance of countries far away from India! Continue reading “Happy Diwali – A celebration abroad…without fireworks”

The Vaisakhi Abroad

April 13 – The Vaisakhi Day! The Baisakhi Day! Call what you like! 🙂
The Vaisakhi is one of the most popular festivals of North India.

For centuries, Vaisakhi has marked the time when farmers get ready to put their sickles to the harvest and celebrate a new year. Those old sickles have been replaced by the modern automated machinery; the farmers have outsourced the labor to the migrant workers but the Vaisakhi festival continued to be celebrated with same vigor, with same fanfare.

The festival bears even greater significance for the Sikhs – the Sikh Religion foundation was laid on this day in 1699.

The Vaisakhi festival is equally popular among the Punjabi communities abroad. Throughout the world wherever Punjabi’s are settled, the festival is a key part of their social and religious customs. Desi communities all over the world have their own ways of honoring this tradition of Vaisakhi Mela. Continue reading “The Vaisakhi Abroad”

Happy Lohri

Kids of all ages gather in small groups, going from house-to-house collecting jaggery candies, peanuts, sweets and even cash…Small bonfires light every corner of the town, creating illusions of warmth in the shivering cold January dusk…. The sound of folk music resonate in every street as kids go door-to-door singing the folk songs of Lohri.

Every year, January 13 marks the Lohri festival – the winter solstice. It is a popular celebration in north India. As the days get longer and the nights shrink, the festival marks the psychological fade of winter, a welcome sign of approaching spring in the coming weeks.

And, yes, this is yet another excuse to celebrate and party, especially for the families blessed with newborns in the last year 12 months. Farmers pray for a prosperous year ahead; kids pray for tons of candy before the night ends. Continue reading “Happy Lohri”

Welcome to the world of Holi festival abroad – without colors!

The Holi day in India; the festival of colors! Dry colors , wet colors, sticky colors, shiny colors, or just plain water if you run out of the colors – everything is a fair game. Friends, foes, families, strangers – everybody is a fair target. No one minds, or to be politically correct, no one is supposed to mind, even if their all dressy outdoor wear is smudged with colors. No one is supposed to hold a grudge if their best dress gets messed up from the Holi colors. Why? Because it is Holi, the festival of colors – no other explanation is needed. A rainbow of colors is an expected scene – almost everywhere.

If you live in India or if you grew up there, we all know, you can go crazy with the colors if you want to. The day itself demands you to be colorful – inside and out.

Just like in India, the Indian communities abroad – all around the world, celebrate the Holi festival. However, there is a often one big difference in the celebrations – the absence of the colors (or very few colors – just as a symbol). Plain and simple – it is not as colorful! Continue reading “Welcome to the world of Holi festival abroad – without colors!”

Thanksgiving – More than Family, Food and a Prayer!

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving300x225

On 4th Thursday of every November, America celebrates Thanksgiving Day. The schools are closed for a better part of this week; most of the businesses close Thursday though Sunday. Families prepare for days to get together and celebrate this festive time.

The American Thanksgiving holiday traces its origins back to 1621 when newly arrived Pilgrims from England held a harvest feast after a successful crop growing season. For more on the history of the holiday, you can take a look at Wikipedia or search online…There is a whole lot of historical background attached to the holiday.

Yes, it is a harvest festival. Over the years, however, it has become a ‘Turkey Day’ – every feast for every family-gathering is supposed to include baked or roasted turkey. Thanksgiving with Turkey is like Christmas without presents, Diwali without lights. That is a part the tradition.

Cooking a 20 pound turkey is an adventure in itself. For amateurs, there are live help-lines where you can call for help – toll-free from your kitchen, if cooking is not going the way you expected; the nice ladies on the other end of the phone are always full of tips and tricks to help you out. This – ‘the turkey tip line’ – is one of the businesses they cannot outsource to India or China, at least not yet! 🙂

Thanksgiving is the time to thank, as you can tell by the name itself – duh! It is time to thank God, it is a time to thank family and friends. You thank God for all the good things and good karma bestowed on you. You thank friends and family for their support, for their love, and for standing with you through thick and thin. So no doubt, there are big family gatherings, a lots of feasting, a lot of thanks and gratitude going around….and yes, some praying… A a weekend full love and compassion, and yes, full of feasts and parties… Continue reading “Thanksgiving – More than Family, Food and a Prayer!”