Tuesday, June 22, 2010
A Diwali pooja or Divali Pooja is worship to the Deities of the Hindu Religion in the form of prayer, offerings and sacrifices. The day of Diwali is important since it signifies the worship and praise of devotees to the various deities; but most importantly, it is a day of praise to Goddess Lakshmi and by extension the divine mother of the entire universe and the earthly (physical) mother. Most devout Hindus perform the Dipavali Pooja in a fixed, ritualistic pattern, by celebrating in praise and offerings to Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva, The Nine Planets, Kalsa (representing the Universe) and Mother Lakshmi.
During the Dipavali Poojan, offerings are made to the fire (Agni devta), which is viewed as the mouth of the Divine- it is the actual feeding of the God. During Diwali Pooja, sixteen prescribed steps occur (symbolic of the sixteen ceremonies to be completed in the life span of a Hindu) including the welcoming of the Deity, giving the Deity a place to sit, the washing of the feet, decorating the Deity, and the offering of food items, clothing or money to seek blessings.
Fresh, sweet-scented flowers along with specific herbs and plants are used, as well as Jhal/Phaag (a combination of milk, ghee, honey and spices). The planting of flags with significant colors associated with the deities is used to symbolize the offerings. In addition, this particular Pooja not only celebrates happiness with light, but with song, chanting, tasting of food, ringing of bells, and the blowing of Conch shells as blessings are bestowed among family members.
Tiny lamps of clay are lighted to drive away the shadows of evil spirits and Self-enlightenment is expressed. It is believed that on this day Lakshmi visits each household and showers her blessings on man for plenty and prosperity. Once the ceremonial worship is finished in the evening, sweets are offered to the goddess as "Naivedya" and distributed as "Prasad". Feasts are arranged and gifts are exchanged on this day. Gaily dressed men, women and children go to temples and fairs, visit friends and relatives.
One of the most curious customs, which characterizes this festival of Dipavali, is the indulgence of gambling, especially on a large scale in North India. It is believed that Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband, Lord Shiva on this day and she decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the ensuring year. This tradition of playing cards- flush and rummy with stakes on this particular day continues even to day.
Sita ram to one and all,
The Hindu festival of Diwali (or Divali) celebrates good conquering evil. It occurs in October or November each year and lasts for 3 to 5 days. Hindus in different parts of India tend to remember different stories at Diwali, on the theme of good conquering evil. The story of the Ramayana (Rama and Sita) is one of the main stories remembered. It measures 180cms by 120cms. The painting shows, from left to right, Lakshmana, Hanuman, Rama and Sita. When Rama returned after 14 years in exile to take his rightful place as king, all the people came out to welcome him back. They lit rows of lamps to lighten his path, called Diwa (or Diva) lamps. The word ‘Diwa’ means ‘light’ and ‘Diwali’ means ‘line of lights’. Light is seen in Hinduism, as in some other religions, as a symbol of good overcoming evil. Today, during Diwali, Hindus light rows of small diwa lamps and display them in their windows.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Moti Choor Ladoo: The most famous of all Indian sweets. Round in shape, made of besan and consisting of cardamom, pistaschio, and a touch of saffron.
Jalebi: Another well renowned Indian mithai. Jalebis are made of sugar and besan
Kajukatli: A soft diamond shaped sweet made from freshly ground cashews.
Kaju-Pista Rolls: A twist of cashew and pistachio. A real crowd pleaser.
Peda: A special mithai recipe preparation from Khoa flour. Agra pedas are delicious.
Barfi: All special occasions warrant this. Quadrangular shaped sweets made of whole milk and sugar, garnished with cardamom and pistachios.
Gulab Jamun: A tasty circular mithai that is known by all. On the top of everyone's list. Comes in a sugary syrup. It is the favorite choice of many Indians.
Badam Barfi: Square shaped Barfi made from Almonds and topped with cardamom seeds and pistachio nuts.
Ras Malai: Medallions of home-made curd cheese served in a sweetened cream sauce.
Rasgulla: These round sweets hail from Bengal. They are white in color and come with a tasty syrup.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Considered as the land of the Humming Bird, Trinidad and Tobago has a good number of Indian populations. For that reason, Hindu festivals, customs, traditions and observances forms an integral part of the society, which comprises the unique beauty of the twin island state. The Diwali celebration has a unique flavor here in the Caribbean island nation. Here 43 per cent of the 1.3 million populations are ethnic Indians.
The festival day is regarded as a national holiday. The festival is also marked by scores of functions besides the usual rituals of the festivity. The functions and celebrations during Diwali Festival also have an official imprint as the Ministers of the Government also participate in the celebrations sometimes. The celebrations continue for over a week and the headquarters of the National Council of Indian Culture at Diwali Nagar becomes the focal point.
Diwali, otherwise known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most anticipated events in Trinidad. Although it is a Hindu festival, in the island's multicultural and multi-religious society it is a national holiday observed by people of all denominations. The day is marked by prayers, feasts and the lighting of thousands of diyas (small clay pots filled with oil in which a wick is immersed and lit) all over the country.
In the Hindu community, there are two stories of the origin of Diwali, and in the weeks leading up to the festival they are acted out in full costume in open-air theaters in villages all over Trinidad. Employees and even government ministers dress in East Indian garb and variety shows featuring aspects of Indian and Hindu culture are staged.
The climax of Diwali however, is the lighting of diyas after sundown - a delightful experience that should never be missed. In yards, open spaces, staircases, roundabouts and porches, diya s are lit by the thousands. They are usually placed on bamboo stalks bent into fantastic shapes and designs. In villages where there is a strong Hindu presence it is common to see whole streets decorated in this manner.
If visiting Trinidad during Diwali, it helps to have a vehicle to travel to many of the areas where the glittering displays can be seen. In some villages, one may have to join the throngs of people walking through the streets in order to get a first-hand view of the lights and to receive sweets which are handed out.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Hello and Sitaram to one and all,
The following blog is being created by a group of students from an ed tech class who are conducting and teaching an educational lesson to primary school children that is based on Divali. Divali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning is "the awareness of the inner light". Divali is usually celebrated by hindus from all over the world on this enjoyfful night asking for wisdom and propersity from Mother Laskhmi. Hindus light deeyas from the time 6 o' clock in the night as a sign to show light over darkness that removes all obstancles in life. Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. It is celebrated during the October/November period. Here the festival is celebrated for five days and the traditions vary from those followed in India. Divali is the celebration of this inner light, in particular the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality.
Hindus have several significant events associated with Diwali:
- The return of Sri Ram after 14 years of Vanvas (banishment). To welcome his return, lamps were lit in rows.
- The Killing of Narakasura: Celebrated as Narak Chaturdashi, one day before Diwali day, it commemorates the killing of the evil demon Narakasura who created havoc, by Krishna's wife Satyabhama. This happened in the Dwapara Yuga during the time of Krishna's avatar. In another version of the belief, the demon was killed by Krishna or Krishna provokes his wife Satyabhama to kill Narshna, defeating Indra. Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali which is the day Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. According to the story, Krishna saw preparations for an annual offering to Lord Indra and asked his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their 'dharma' truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He continued to say that all human beings should merely do their 'karma', to the best of their ability and not pray for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna lifted Mount Govardhan and held to protect the people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. Although this aspect of Krishna's life is sometimes ignored it sets up the basis of the 'karma' philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavat Gita.