Feb 282011

The Hindu festival of Holi is probably considered the most fun holiday by kids and even adults in India. The actual day of celebration this year is March 19. The colorful, festive occasion celebrates the triumph of good over bad and the virtue of honesty is highlighted.

Holi occurs during a colorful time of the year when Spring is in bloom and a good harvest is expected. Color seems to be everywhere as different-colored powders are smeared on anyone by anyone. Even the animals are not spared as they take on different colors for the day in celebration.

Playfulness is brought out as all ages chase one another with color in powder or liquid form. It is made clear that if anyone tries to avoid getting color on themselves or their clothes by hiding, they will get even more color on them. Most give in to this reality and start the day wearing old white clothes that they expect to turn numerous colors by the end of the day.

In the evening, gifts and sweets are exchanged among friends and relatives.

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Pria Ingrum is of South Asian descent and blogs about her heritage and culture. She also owns a South Asian boutique. She welcomes any comments, suggestions, ideas, South Asian recipes and South Asian event news at priamba6@gmail.com.

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Source: Holi Organization, My South Asian Column

Nov 182010

Diwali worship
The South Asian Festival of lights, “Diwali,” is celebrated at this time. It is one of the biggest celebrations in India and is seen as the beginning of the new calendar or financial year in some parts. Diwali is traditionally celebrated for five days with each day having a specific myth and belief.

Diwali is also a fun holiday for all ages. Houses are decorated with tiny lights inside and out. Children and adults enjoy presents, fireworks and great food, particularly delicious sweets.

An issue that South Asians growing up in the US grapple with is the coordination of holidays from their heritage and of their adopted country.

At this time, Thanksgiving is around the corner, just a week away, as is Diwali (I admit I don’t know the exact date). I know that Diwali is around Halloween, and formal celebrations normally take place sometime in November. I will look out for a Diwali event to take my family to. In the past, I have managed to make some sweets and some prayers with my family, who have sometimes looked at me with some awkwardness.

I am starting to determine what vegetarian Thanksgiving items I will make, and that my family will help me with. Once I have the recipes located, I will then go to the grocery store and hopefully get everything I need by this weekend, to avoid the last minute chaos at the stores.

I like to make pies from scratch, which my son enjoys helping with. When I was expecting my daughter two years ago, we used extra crust to decorate the pies with an “M” for “Maya” on them. It is gratifying to have her with us and be able to actually eat what we make this time.

This year, we are planning on a quiet celebration. We are not going on a trip and will celebrate at home just with our immediate family. My relaxing fantasy is that I am scrap-booking while my husband watches football, now with my son. Of course that leaves out my toddler, who will of course probably not allow such a relaxing occasion.

While trying to manage her, I hope I am able to find some peaceful moments, in-between the cooking, cleaning, and getting ready for the mother of all holidays here, Christmas. Not being able to call myself Christian, I still love the holiday and will probably shed some tears again while listening to Bing Crosby singing about a “White Christmas,” while very likely there are snowflakes falling here in Denver.

I’ve lately thought of Christmas as a beloved bully when going to stores in September and seeing Christmas items on one side, and Halloween on the other. I thought that poor Halloween didn’t even have a chance! Forget about Thanksgiving, which is sort of just the “intro” to Christmas.

Since I have a craft fair to prepare for in early December, Christmas will likely arrive earlier than normal in my home as well. I recall that last year, I ended up trying to get ready for Christmas after the show, which seemed like hardly any time to celebrate such a beautiful holiday.

As a South Asian, I don’t feel guilty for feeling emotional attachments to Western holidays. I know that this is a consequence of living here in the US. I’m certain that if I was living in India, I would feel the same for holidays there.

In general, it seems like a good idea to celebrate for any reason and to have any excuse to feel joyful, at peace and connect with our spirituality.

I wish everyone a very happy Diwali, Thanksgiving and any other occasion you choose to celebrate at this time.


Christmas as a South Asian

 Adaptation, Holiday Rituals  Comments Off on Christmas as a South Asian
Dec 292009

Ever since I first learned of the Christmas holiday, probably at age seven, when I moved to the US, I have been attracted to it. Although I could not label myself as a Christian, I remember putting up a nativity scene as a child. I played Christmas carols on an organ and later sang carols with a group in the neighborhood. I was the one that bothered with the tree and presents at Christmas.

I am still into Christmas and have felt the season is too short. I love the carols and singing along. On Christmas eve, we watched “White Christmas,” at my son’s request. This was surprising as we have been trying to expose him to classics and black and white movies. It’s possible he was trying to please us, but he did stay awake throughout. Listening to Bing Crosby belt out “White Christmas” brings tears to my eyes. It is at moments like these that I feel in touch with my “American soul.” It is one thing to appreciate something, it’s quite another to have an emotional response.

At the same time, I know that if I heard a classic Indian song, like from the movie Mother India or others from the ’70s, I would also feel tears come to my eyes.

Maybe it is as a result of truly coming to peace with my bi-cultural heritage that I am able to fully appreciate the beauty of both. I can therefore enjoy singing to “Silent Night” and truly appreciate my peaceful environment while celebrating my baby’s first Christmas.


Thanksgiving as a South Asian

 Holiday Rituals  Comments Off on Thanksgiving as a South Asian
Nov 272009

Being South Asian in the South is an intriguing concept. This is is
When Thanksgiving rolls around, I’m not quite sure what to do with the holiday. Being from India, I didn’t grow up with any traditional memories. I don’t quite remember it at all. I think my family may have just tried to make a somewhat more special meal. As vegetarians (outside of the Asian cultural issue), turkey was not a consideration. Since I am still vegetarian, that part doesn’t help now.

My husband is not vegetarian and did grow up with some traditional Thanksgiving memories. So in compromise, we try to celebrate the occasion keeping both backgrounds in mind. This year, we went to my Unitarian Church’s Thanksgiving. It was $7 each and we brought a vegetable for eight. I made sauteed organic spinach in olive oil with roasted garlic. It went fast.

I was the only vegetarian in what seemed to be a gathering of about 80. I had gotten a call a few days prior confirming my vegetarian status and that something special would be made for me. I was curious and was looking forward to it. It ended up being a soupy mixture of celery and mushrooms in a little bowl. I had hoped for some protein.

My son was with his biological Dad (my ex) and was going to have somewhat of a traditional Thanksgiving, but as a vegetarian. It was our infant daughter’s first Thanksgiving. It was good to be able to leave not long after eating to get her ready for bed. She had a fit as we were driving off and we had to pull over to calm her. I thought this would have been challenging if we were with a family we knew, such as last year.

It is now Black Friday and I’m relieved Thanksgiving is behind me. I feel more in control with Christmas and am looking forward to bringing out the Christmas decor, singing Christmas carols and seeing my daughter’s reaction as she experiences her first Christmas.

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