Diwali: A Festival of Lights
Celebrants, from left: Vinod Bharadwaj (AD), Mukul
Agrawal (ARDA), Tina Datu (ACC), Ram Kanth Chunduri (BAS) and Brijesh
Bhatnagar (MD) (Photo by Vinod Bhardwaj)
By Kausalya Ganapathi
The SLAC Asian Indian community celebrated Diwali (a
festival of lights) on November 4 in the Beige Room during lunch hour. An
enthusiastic group of around 25 Indians participated in a potluck by
contributing sumptuous Indian food. This was a first time effort to bring
the SLAC Indian community together.
Diwali is a festival of lights symbolizing the lifting of
spiritual darkness. This festival commemorates Lord Rama’s return to
Ayodhya after completion of his 14-year exile and after his victory over
the evil demon king Ravana. Lord Rama is the reincarnation of Vishu, who
is one of the Trinities. The other two are Brahma (the Creator) and Shiva
(the Destroyer). The goddess Lakshmi (consort of Vishnu) who is the symbol
of wealth and prosperity is also worshipped on this day.
In southern India, this festival has another legend
connected with it, in which Lord Krishna (also an incarnation of Lord
Vishnu), the celestial cowherd, vanquishes the demon Narakasura. New
clothes are bought and family members and relatives gather together to
offer prayers. Hindus rise earlier than usual, rub perfumed oil on their
heads and bodies before bathing, and then have a large breakfast with
relatives and friends. Lunch is a feast with special sweet dishes and
traditional cuisine. Oil lamps illuminate the house in the evening and
firework displays are common all across the country.
Diwali celebrations are not the same in the U.S., where
the celebrations include family get-togethers, playing games, eating
sweets and generally having fun. In India, housewives, moms and
grandmothers spend days making a variety of sweets and savories for the
occasion. However, some Indians in the U.S. are diet conscious and forgo
making a lot of sweets because they are high in calories. In Weight
Watchers’ terms, some of them are 20 points per piece!
Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, at SLAC
we came up with the plan of celebrating the function, as we would back in
India. We brought memories from our days in India, set the ambiance for
the occasion and had a great time with a low cal lunch.
For information on next year’s Diwali Celebration, contact
Kausalya Ganapathi, ext. 4305