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Monday 12 November 2012

Had a Great Weekend!

Saturday evening I went to an event with my in-laws in celebration for the upcoming Diwali. My nieces danced and sang, and there were lots of other performances. Of course there was yummy food... which is one of my favorite parts of the Hindu festivals. We had a nice evening sleeping over at my mother in-laws house, and woke up early Sunday morning to prepare for Diwali. For those of you who don't know what Diwali is... it's like Christmas but in the Hindu religion. It's the festival of lights... after sunset everyone has fun lighting candles, says a nice little prayer, and enjoy eating and spending time with your loved ones. This year Diwali is actually on Tuesday... and then their New Year follows towards the end of the week. So it will be a busy week of festivities.

Sunday we did a "spring cleaning" type of thing, since it will be a new year coming. Then we had fun making some yummy Indian sweets... and of course test them out! My favorite that we made was the Ladoo... which is basically an Indian version of a butter cookie... mmm! What makes it Indian? The main difference they add cardamom spice, which is so yummy. If you're someone who likes spices that are in autumn baking, then you would like cardamom... similar.

Then we made puri's... lots! They covered the whole kitchen table rolled out. What is a puri? It's similar to pita bread, but it's fried. It is served at special or ceremonial functions as part of ceremonial rituals along with other vegetarian food offered in prayer as prasadam. The name puri derives from the Sanskrit word पूरिका (pūrikā), from पुर (pura) "filled".

After all of that stuff... it was time to decorate the house with some fun bright colors. On the front porch I got to do what's called rangoli. Once again you're probably asking yourself... what is that?

Rangoli are decorative designs made on the floors of living rooms and courtyards during Hindu festivals. They are meant to be sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu deities. The ancient symbols have been passed on through the ages, from each generation to the next, thus keeping both the art form and the tradition alive. The patterns are typically created with materials, including colored rice, dry flour,(colored) sand or even flower petals.

The purpose of Rangoli is decoration, and it is thought to bring good luck. Rangoli is used as a symbol of religious and cultural beliefs, specifically Hindu. It is considered an important part of the spiritual process; it might be called the purification of the spirit and the prosperity that lies behind such purification. Moreover, it represents a philosophy of life that enthusiastically celebrates the impermanence of knowing and devotes itself to a constant wish to live in the present. The idea that tomorrow will be renewed, which is the purpose of the rangoli, is one of the greatest concerning this symbol. Additional house festivals or family occasions inspire the art of crafting rangoli. Women may make rangoli at the entrance to every room of the house. The hobby itself is a basic symbol of eternal innovative creation, thus symbolic of the spirit. Rangoli created with icons, such as the swastika, lotus flower, Lakshmiji step (Pegalie), etc., are considered indicators of prosperity. Many homes today craft rangoli daily. The art, then, has become a part of the modern family. This decor created for almost all except the few; it is a symbol of human spirit and thus an important means to realize cultural feelings. Rangoli symbolizes joy and happiness.

With this being the first time doing this, mine of course isn't as good as others... but I'm determined to master it for next year!

Later in the evening after sunset, prayers were said and candles lit around the house... and in the front of the house where the rangoli was done. Everything looked so pretty... love it! So today it's time to do the same at my apartment... cleaning, rangoli, prayers, and candles!

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