I love visiting Indian especially at Diwali times. Diwali, is a colourful and happy celebration. Hindus across the world celebrate Diwali in honor of the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana from exile of 14 years. To honor the return of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana from Lanka and to illuminate their path, villagers light Diyas to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
Diwali is a 5 day festival.
The First Day of Diwali
The first day of Diwali is Dhanvantari Trayodasi, when Lord Dhanvantari appeared, delivering Ayurvedic medicine for mankind. This day marks the beginning of Diwali celebrations. At sunset, devout Hindus bathe and offer oil lamps along with prasada (sanctified food) to Yamaraja, the Lord of Death, and pray for protection from untimely death.
The Second Day of Diwali
The second day of Diwali is Naraka Chaturdasi. On this day Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura and liberated the 16,000 princesses the demon held captive.
The Third Day – Actual Diwali
This is the actual day of Diwali, commonly known as the Hindu New Year. The faithful cleanse themselves and join with their families and priests to worship the goddess Lakshmi, consort of Lord Vishnu, to receive blessings of wealth, prosperity, triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. This is also the day Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya, having successfully rescued Sita and defeated the demon Ravana.
The Fourth Day of Diwali
On this day, Govardhana Puja is performed, a spiritual harvest festival. Thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna caused the people of Vrindavan to perform Govardhana Puja.
Bali Maharaja was defeated on this day by Lord Krishna’s dwarf brahmana incarnation, Vamanadeva.
The Fifth Day of Diwali
The fifth day of the Diwali is called Bhratri Dooj, dedicated to sisters. We have heard about Raksha Bandhan, brothers day. Well this is sisters day. Many moons ago in the Vedic era, Yamaraja, the Lord of Death, visited His sister Yamuna on this day. He gave Yamuna a boon that whoever visits her on this day shall be liberated from all sins; they will achieve moksha, liberation. From then on, brothers visit their sisters on this day to inquire about their welfare, and many faithful bathe in the holy waters of the Yamuna River.
This day marks the end of the five days of Diwali celebrations.
We arrived on Monday morning in Delhi and was looking forward to the Diwail preparations. Indians prepare their homes and themselves for the special festivities that symbolise the victory of spiritual goodness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. People clean and decorate their homes, as It is popularly believed that Lakshmi likes cleanliness and will visit the cleanest house first. Hence, the broom is worshiped.
Diwali is one of the happiest holidays in India with significant preparations. Diwali is one of the biggest shopping seasons in India; people buy new clothes for themselves and their families, as well as gifts, appliances, kitchen utensils, even expensive items such as cars and gold jewelry. People also buy gifts for family members and friends which typically include sweets, dry fruits, and seasonal specialties. Girls and women go shopping and create rangoli and other creative patterns on floors, near doors and walkways. Youth and adults alike help with lighting and preparing for patakhe (fireworks). Firecrackers are set off to drive away evil, oil lamps are lit, flower garlands are made, candles float in bowls of water outside homes and sweets are shared as part of the festivities.
Most importantly, Diwali is a religious and spiritual occasion when Hindus gather with their family and friends to perform puja and offer prayers to Maha Lakshmi. Maha Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity – both material and spiritual wealth and prosperity. They worship Her with love, humility and devotion and offer thanks for the blessings that She has bestowed upon them and their family, and ask Her to continue to bless them.
So what is eaten during the five-day festival?
The immediate answer is sweets – and plenty of them. Indian sweetmeats, known as “mithai” are a cross between snack, dessert and confectionery. If there’s one thing that captures the Indian culinary psyche, it’s mithai. Little morsels are nibbled throughout the day, on their own, with masala chai or as part of a meal alongside savoury items.
Standing in “Connaught Place” New Delhi, I feel like I’m standing in the center of the universe. As I take a 360 degree turn I can see the whole world, from every nationally, tourists from all over the world, locals, the business man selling his pashmina on the streets, the shoppers bargaining with him, the tourist mesmerized by the city. The smells are so pronounced, Incense Sticks, Perfumes, Food, Petrol, Tobacco, Pollution, Spices and the Heat that has been baked back into the earth.The smell of Delhi mirrors the city itself, an Asian megalopolis bursting with life lived out in the open, on the streets, in the markets, on the innumerable lawns and terraces where multi – generational families clad in colourful cottons, spend hours together, sipping tea and talking about nothing. Colors everywhere, every shade, Shades of colors I have never seen before, Saffron, Indigo, Marigold, Emerald. The colors hit your senses at every turn. Ladies in their Sari, Scarfs, Shoes,Bangles, the color of the Food and its amazing smells, So many people everywhere. The noises from all different Accents, the Cars beeping, the Bells ringing in the Temples, Motorbikes and Autos whizzing by. Its one of my favourite places in the world. Its crazy, but I feel like I belong here.
I have traveled all over India. Delhi is my second Home. I love the way the sky turns pink each evening at dusk because the air is tinged with the pink sand of Rajasthan, the nearby desert state. India in Incredible. I love to watch the sun set, at the India Gate. Its one of my favourite places to visit. It has so much history there and it’s just beautiful.
This time when I visited the Indian Gate there was a Chhath Puja, The Sun God, Surya, the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the Chhath Puja to promote well-being, prosperity and progress. The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun.
One of the must do things in India is to EAT. I love food. You simply can not resist eating Street food when you are in India. Eating street food comes naturally to me. Perhaps it’s from my years of experience of eating Indian food here and my high level of tolerance for Chilis. My first visit to India I was of course skeptical from reading all about the foods to avoid and the horror stories of ” The Delhi Belly” but after a few days here its impossible to not indulge. Most important, I made the most of street food’s greatest advantage over restaurant food: transparency. Indian street food vendors do not wear gloves, but you are able to scan for signs of basic hygiene awareness: clean hands, regularly wiped prep surfaces and raw foods stored separately from cooked. And what can be more assuring than watching your food made in front of you?
I do some Charity work with an Irish based Charity and have traveled to Pune to help them with under privileged children. It’s never a nice trip to make but it’s so rewarding to see that you make a child happy. Copper and Spices and proud to be Business Partners with them. Katie Taylor is our ambassador for the Charity Zest4Kidz. Please check out their website for information. Pune is an incredible city, with lots to see, this trip however was not for sightseeing. We got to spend time with children and visit the (slums) their homes. What fascinated me was how proud the ladies are of their homes. The slum dwellers are a proud and vibrant community.Slum dwellers, provide all the services in the city; from the boy who brings in the milk, to the newspaper vendor, to the maid who works in the house to the driver who takes people to work, to the people who works the factories, to the clerk in the bank, to the municipal corporations, schools, colleges, these people live in the slums. They are the working people in India, if they said Halt, India would come to a grinding halt.”
In Jan 2013 I got married in Delhi. The wedding gos on for nearly a week. It was such a magical experience. It’s so different and so romantic. Its like starring in your own Fairy Tale. Hindus attach a great deal of importance to marriages.The rituals and process in a Hindu wedding vary widely. The Hindu wedding ceremony at its core is essentially a Vedic yaina ritual. The primary witness of a Hindu marriage is the fire-deity (or the Sacred Fire) Agni, in the presence of family and friends. The ceremony is traditionally conducted entirely, or at least partially in Sanskrit, considered by Hindus as the language of holy ceremonies. The local language of the bride and groom is also used. English of course was also used for me to understand.
In India, by law and tradition, no Hindu marriage is binding and complete unless the ritual of seven steps and vows in presence of fire (Saptapadi) is completed by the bride and the groom together. This requirement is under debate
The main day ( The reception, which was 2 days later) you wear a Lehenga, this weighs half your body weight nearly, but you are thankfully sitting for most of this part. There are so many ceremony’s that you don’t just have one dress. Your hands and feet transform into a temporary work of art. Weddings are a very auspicious time. The day I got married there was 30,000 other weddings in Delhi that day. Of course with a wedding there are lots and lots of food. In Indian you never need a reason to eat. Food is everywhere. There is no specific menu for a Hindu wedding, instead there are a lot of things that sorta just show up out of habit. Indians, in my experience, like to show their love through fried food, butter, and sugar, so you can expect a lot of that if you’re going to a Hindu wedding. Yeah, don’t wear a belt to this real-life feast.
When ever I visit India, whatever part I travel to I must visit a temple. My Trip is not complete unless I do this. My Favourite temple is Hanuman Temple. If he wasn’t bright orange and enormous, you almost might miss the mighty Hanuman amid the swirling traffic and chaos of New Delhi’s Karol Bagh district. Born the child of a nymph and the wind god and blessed with the ability to fly and grow infinitely large, as a child he flew up and tried to grab the sun, thinking it was a piece of Fruit. Hanuman later used his powers for good and, for his service to the Hindu god Rama. The Temple is a cave. Where you are greeted by priests and statues of other gods and goddesses. It’s truely an experience. The first time I came here I was over whelmed by the welcome I received. I was allowed to serve the food to the homeless people. Men, Women and children. The children were so nice and smiling at my fair sink. Every year I go here, the priests remember me and I say my prayers. My thank you to god, for allowing to live another day, for looking after my family and friends, I have never felt closer to god than when I’m in India.
Diwali is my favourite time to visit India. Here you can read all about my latest Diwali celebrations in India.
India is Incredible and if your reading this and thinking about traveling here, you should.