Friday evening we attended a Diwali-related event at the local arts center. Diwali, known as the festival of lights, is a five-day festival in Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. The event was part of the art center's global heritage series, so it was probably more a mix of Indian cultural activities that was timed with Diwali.
The festivities started off with a ritual at an alter to invoke God Ganesh, destroyer of all obstacles and for harmony in our lives; and to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess of prosperity and happiness. All attendees were invited to pass a tray with burning incense and other items in front of the two statues of the god and goddess.
Everyone shared a delicious vegetarian meal that included pakora and samosa appetizers and then we had dal makhani, paneer jhalferezi, natarattan korma, channa chat, rice, boondi raita and puris (lentils, cheese with peppes and mushrooms, veggies in curry sauce, bean and mango salad, rice and breads). We have really been craving Indian food (no restaurant in a 60 mile radius), so we savored every bite. Dessert was halwa and gulab jaman (cream of wheat pudding and fried milk balls in syrup). I am not sure who came up with the gulab jaman dish, but what a sweet treat!
During the meal, there was odissi dance performance by a Berkley-based dance instructor, Guru Jyoti Rout. The dances were a combination of invocation for auspicious beginnings and story telling through dance and very emotional eyes. She captivated the entire audience, that was for sure. After the meal, the audience was invited to participate in a folk dance that included sticks (dandia ras). Some were better with the sticks than others.
Being at the event, listening to old Ravi Shankar songs, smelling incense and eating great food reminded me of our trip to India in 2003. When we got home, I reminisced by looking through our trip photos. Here is one of Bob and I, in our youth, dining at the lake palace in Udaipur.
|Newlyweds in Udaipur (2003).|