Friday, October 3, 2014

Diwali--Hindu Festival of Lights

There are a significant number of Hindus in Fiji. Diwali is one of the biggest Hindu festivals commemorated here and all over the world. It is celebrated with much fanfare, gaiety, and enthusiasm. Here is a nighttime procession that we followed when it passed our house.

Before Diwali, families spend hours making sure their homes are sparklingly clean, well-decorated and full of delicious aromas. Food is prepared for weeks in advance. Our neighbor Sarita Chandra prepared this beautiful feast including many Indian sweets which are made on the stove, not baked.

These are delicious Pera made with paneer (Indian homemade cheese), milk, sugar, and cardamom. 

  Gifts are exchanged—especially Indian sweets. 

New clothes are purchased. Here is beautiful Sarita in her new elegant sari and her beautiful home. 

Homes and shops are decorated with many small electric lights.

Rangoli, stunning folk art designs created with colored rice, sand or flower petals, are at the entrances to homes. Usually these are lotus flowers. Our neighbors, Vimal, Sarita, and their son Vineel Chandra invited us over to enjoy Diwali with them. They created this beautiful rangoli to welcome people to their home. 

It is a celebration of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance. Hindus in Fiji usually open their homes to other families to share in the traditional sweets and foods of Diwali in Fiji.
Here in Fiji, it is a public holiday. Traditionally it is a harvest festival because it usually falls in October or November. The exact day of the festival is determined by the position of the moon. 

“No moon day” is the perfect day to celebrate. Candles are lit to drive away the darkness. Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps.” Small earthenware oil lamps called diyas are lit in profusion around people’s homes. Here Vimal and his son Vineel light the lamps.

I couldn't get this photo to turn around.

Then they relax after decorating their home.
Last year it was on Sunday, 3 November 2013. This year it will be on Thursday, 23 October 2014. Next year it will be on 11 November 2015 and in 2016 it will fall on 30 October. It is actually a five-day festival with Diwali falling on the third day. 

Oh, and did I mention the fireworks and sparklers. Those continued for a good month after Diwali. Boom, boom, boom late at night—I felt like I was in a war zone.

Our first introduction to Hindu culture came when we attended the Fiji Hindu Society fund-raising program on October 24, 2013. It was outstanding. This woman played a unique keyboard instrument with her right hand while operating the bellows with her left hand, singing beautifully at the same time.

This man could really dance. I wish I could post the video.

Again, lighting candles is a very important part of every Diwali celebration.

The sounds this drummer could create almost effortlessly from this small drum were amazing.

These young women danced in a very unique way and their costumes were very intriguing.

Afterwards we got to meet some of the other attendees. 
This Fijian woman now lives in California. Isn’t she beautiful in her sari. 

Here are a mother and daughter in exquisite saris. 

We were surrounded with a beautiful fashion show 
of dresses (worn by unmarried young women) and saris (worn by married women).

This woman is a sister to our dear friend, Sandhiya Singh.

At the end of the Diwali season, we learned more about Diwali at one of our senior missionary Family Home Evenings. We enjoyed lamb curry and all the toppings and roti (a bread much like a tortilla).

The women enjoyed visiting with each other on one side. 

And the men conversed on the other except for two women who perhaps found their discussion more lively..

Afterwards we took a group picture. What a wonderful bunch of people devoted to serving the people of Fiji and their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Seated: Elder Collins, Sister Davis, Sister Collins, Sister Klingler, Sister Limburg, Sister Newsom (me), Sister Hogge, Sister Wells, Sister Christiansen, Sister Tennis, and Sister Whitehead.
Standing: Elder Hogge, President Davis, President Klingler, Sister and Elder Updike, Elder Whitehead, Susan and Frank Stanford (wonderful volunteers), Elder and Sister Jackson, Elder Wells, speaker, Elder Christiansen, and Elder Tennis.

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