Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Divali, the Festival of Light

Divali (or Diwali) means "rows of lighted lamps". The Hindu diaspora celebrates in the form of lit deyas (clay lamps) the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and the return of Lord Rama after 14 years of exile in the forest. Homes are cleaned and windows opened to welcome Laksmi, goddess of light, wealth and beauty. This is held on the last day of the year in the Hindu lunar calendar but because there is no universally accepted Hindu calendar, the date varies in different parts of the world. It is always held sometime in late October or early November. This year is Trinidad we didn't know the date until weeks before the event.
This is an occasion for new clothes and a big family feast. During observation of Divali, as a form of sacrifice, no meat is prepared. There is a wonderful wide variety of traditional vegetarian dishes which are served on a fresh large green leaves. After the meal, it's an easy cleanup! Some of the dishes are curried channa, aloo (chickpeas and potatoes), pumpkin, mango chutneys and hot sauces. These are all served with roti, a light flat bread (similiar to pita) which is used to wrap around the curried vegetables with your fingers.

We left the marina on a series of buses and maxi taxis to the village of Felicity in the center of Trinidad in the late afternoon. We were guests of the temple there and enjoyed performances of Indian dance and Tassa drumming.
Click on the square below to be connected to You Tube and see a brief composite of several snippits of the performances from our digital camera.

After the show, we had dinner in the temple hall of traditional divali vegetarian dishes - all delicious and we had fun eating with our fingers on the big leaves. More to come on another blog entry.