November 17

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My First Diwali/Onam Festival in India

Festival of Lights

I started writing this blog just before Diwali, due to my domestic travels I am publishing it a little late..hope you enjoy reading:-)

Diyas

This is the first time I have ever been away  from home for such a wonderful and the most important festival of the year, Yes once again I was a little emotional but working in a small family environment – LCD office, all the staff made me feel like I was part of their family.   We celebrated this lovely festival in the office and pooja was performed.

Marked by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains the bright and beautiful annual celebration of Diwali is here, with millions of people lighting up their lives for five days of festivities.  The date of Diwali changes each year as the day  is celebrated which is calculated according to the position of the moon and the Hindu calendar, this year the actual Diwali was on 18th October.  Those celebrating Diwali also light traditional oil lamps called divas which are said to help Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, find her way into people’s homes. Fireworks are going off all around us, and the skyline is romantically dotted with the divas that are lit on the rooftops and balconies of each home.   Its a beautiful atmosphere here in Bangalore, houses, cars, offices and streets are decorated with fresh colorful flowers, lights, divas and tinsels.

 

In Kerala this festival is called Onam which is a long ten 10 days festival, this is the biggest and the most important festival Festivities.  This is also celebrated in Bangalore same time as Diwali.  Of all these days, most important ones are the first day, Atham and the last or tenth day, Thiru Onam.  Preparations for the Thiru Onam starts in a big way and everybody gets engaged to mark the festival in their own style.  Notable feature of this day is that making of Pookkallam or the flower carpet starts from this day.

This colorful flower display is also known as rangoli  which is an art, origin in India similar to making of Pookkallam or the flower carpet.   In some homes, they create rangoli in front of their homes or office.

The below photo is completed by joint efforts with fresh flowers in front of the LCD SARO (South Asia Regional Office), full description in the video below.

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Elaborate prayers ceremonies and poojas are also performed on this day in the office.  Pooja is linked to the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Everyone had their heads bowed while Sridhar a colleague at work performed  a few rituals, which includes giving the goddess an ‘offering’ of rice and a sweet made from pure sugar. The whole proceeding is spiritually beautiful, and I realized that you don’t need to be religious to appreciate the meaning and emotion that goes into prayers. Regardless of how we ‘label’ a religion, we’re all essentially hoping that somewhere out there there’s something bigger than us – something that gives a deeper and more meaningful significance to our chaotic existence.  The pooja ends, we all celebrate in style with the abundance of food to share with everyone in a lovely local restaurant.

During Diwali/Onam lots sweets are made or bought, which are gifted to family members, friends and staff.

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Celebrating With A Bang

That evening, we prayed and we ate alot.

All night, I could hear the loud bangs of crackers and fireworks all around me. It was so atmospheric to step outside and see all the homes covered in lights and divas, and witness all the fireworks climbing into the sky.

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Please look out for my next blogs on my travels and my PULSE visits to other Cheshire Homes, meeting and working with the staff and residence of the home.