Deepavali- Hindu Festival of Lights
Deepavali (or Diwali) is the biggest holiday of the Hindu faith. It's a lunar holiday so the date changes every year.
We just celebrated this year's Deepavali in Klang, Malaysia. A small town near the coast of Malaysia about 60km East of Kuala Lumpur.
It's kinda like Christmas unencumbered by all the commercialism, seasonal depression and rigmarole that Wal Mart and Saint Nick sell to consumers every year.
Basically, it's all about the family and food. Coming together to share a meal of gastronomic proportions and have a chat and gossip with family about this auntie or that uncle and what they're been up to.
Gifts are exchanged... but in general you get 1 gift... a moderate priced Indian style shirt is what I get most years NOT the latest greatest X-box type gizmo and certainly not US$200 name brand shoes or any number of things that kids seem to somehow NEED nowadays for parents to prove they love them.
It ain't exactly Christmas.
Deepavali starts with the making of the Kolam... a symbol of beauty and impermanence. Since it's made of colored rice powder (or sometimes sand), it will be gone within a few days after it's creation.
The Kolam is meant to remind us that all things are transient. You can't cling to anything in this life not even love or beauty.
The culminating event is the lighting of the lamp to bring light. Light symbolizes knowledge and wisdom, something sacred to Hindu's.
Then comes the food. And lots of it!
It tends to be an open house atmosphere with folks visiting several houses and eating all day long. Food is the ultimate social magnet. All cultures I know of value food and it's ability to bring people together in a congenial atmosphere to share experiences, resolve business or just have a good ole time!
And of course, a nice cold fermented beverage always helps!
It's a good life if you make it out to be!