and I became an Indian - Happy Diwali :)
Beenleigh Travel Blog› entry 49 of 57 › view all entries
Here in Australia, I've been told more than just a few times that I look Indian, so this experience was even more meaningful to me. A couple of weeks ago I heard for 1st time the word "Diwali". At that time I didn't have any idea what it means, but later a friend explained to me that Diwali is an important five-day festival in Hinduism. I won't explain what it exactly means, since I've already read a blog which makes a great job about that. I'll just say that Diwali is like the Hindi New Year. So, you can get the picture what a big deal it is.
Like Christmas for me, Catholic, this day is more about family and traditions. Therefore I got super excited and happy with the idea of spending this important day with a family. A very good friend from uni was going to meet some relatives near Gold Coast and asked me if I'd like to join them too.
My friend picked me up from the station around 2pm and then we drove to his aunty's. She and her sister in-law were cooking and have been doing so for the past 6 days! OMG! The aunty was a lovely lady and wasn't expecting to get flowers, hehe. She took them away, but I didn't see where she put them. Despite the difference of cultures, it reminded me to a Latin family. Just the family orientation, lots of food and trying to make everybody welcome. That house was full of love and the party hasn't even started.
I noticed dinner would be huge, so it was better for us just to have a small snack for lunch. But I coulnd't resist trying the Indian sweets, plus aunty wanted me to try everything and I couldn't say no to my host. She went back to the kitchen and my friend had to do a couple of stuff for the party, so I joined him. I even was chopping the pumpkin, hehe. They didn't want me to work, but I wanted to be part of the whole experience. Then we took a small tour around the house and I saw the altar. My friend was explaining me about the gods there and it was so nice to see that next to the altar there were some flowers, the one I brought! How sweet!
Then the children came from school and joined us. At the beginning they were a bit shy with the strange girl, but after a while we were friends, specially with the little nice.
The ceremony would start at 6pm, so it was time to go and get ready. Mmm, the only thing I brought with me was a dress, but didn't seem to be appropiate after seeing everyone would wear traditional outfits... At this point I was feeling very comfortable with aunty, so I told her my dilemma. She checked the dress and then said: "Mmm, would you like to wear a traditional outfit?" What?!?! Really?!?! OMG! I couldn't have asked for anything better.
At 6 o'clock the ceremony started. We all went to the room where the altar was. My friend's brother was in charge of the praying. It was so interesting and new and I wish I could have taken many pictures, but it would be so disrespectful to do so. I would be a silent witness, but it surprised me that they didn't want me just to watch but take part of the ceremony, wow! That was awesome! After the praying to the goddess Laksmi, they started to play the drums and sing some songs. I couldn't sing, since I don't speak the language but was clapping.
Then they all stood up and left the room.
Later we went back to the altar room, where the ceremony came to an end. We offered some food to the gods and prayed for a last time. This time we shared some holy water and they tied red bands around our wrists and also we got dots on the foreheads. Nice! Now whe ceremony was over and we moved to the patio to chill out.
We put some candles outside and friends started to arrive. It was so fun I was part of the welcome committee saying: "Happy Diwali!" Maybe because of that and the way I looked, they all were talking to me in hindi until the uncle let them know I was Peruvian, hahaha.
The table was full of Indian sweets and other snacks. I discovered something really good: toasted peas snack. OMG! That was a bit spicy and salty. This would be the perfect snack for a bar, hahaha. There was so much food, so I thought this would be dinner. We kept on chatting and aunty didn't want me to stay quiet and/or sitting far away, how kind. But the niece was calling me and wanted me to hang out with her too, hehe. They brought some tea too. Mmm, I looked at my friend and he told me they'd drink alcohol later, hehe.
At some point he dissapeared and I went to the kitchen looking for him.
It was almost midnight when they told me we'd have dinner. Really? After eating so much? that late? Well, our Christmas dinner is usually at midnight, so it wasn't that odd. I wasn't hungry, but wanted to try the pumpkin I helped to prepare. It was very tasty!!! I'd try to do it back at home. Then they brought some wine and other liquors and we just stayed chilling out at the patio. But it wasn't even 1am when we all went to sleep. Next morning there would be another ceremony and we all wanted to be completely awake for it. Thanks for having this Peruvian girl for such an important celebration!!!!