Where to Go and Where to Get Gifts for Diwali

I don’t usually do this, but I’ve several shameless plugs to make in the next few days, so please bear with me.

First, for everyone who is away from home this Diwali and does not have access to a local neighborhood Indian store, you can now check out eBay India’s new Diwalimicrosite. You can get a great selection of necessities for your Diwali celebration, and gifts for your loved ones, including Bollywood movies! They even have a special handcrafted section for goods that are made by artists in India. And for every purchase made from www.ebay.com/handcraftedinindia from Oct 18 – Nov 10., eBay will donate $1 to the National Rural and Development Association (NARAD), a non-governmental social service organization in India that provides self-help training, motivation and skills to farmers, women and youth, who work to support their families and keep these traditional Indian art forms alive.

Second, if you live in the DMV area, I’d suggest attending the Diwali Banquet on Nov 9, held by the GW South Asian Law Students Association. You are sure to enjoy an evening with an unlimited Indian Buffet, DJ, and Indian drum player in a great location. Tickets are on sale here.

Third, please donate to the Prerna Needs a New Bike fund. I am going to have a hard time doing my daily trips from home to the office, going to school, back to the office and back home again for a while, and any little bit would help.

Diwali – the festival of noise, excess sugar and electricity consumption

It’s close to 2am as I write this blog post. Everyone else in the house is sleeping. But the room next to mine–the prayer room–is well-lit with ‘X-mas’ lights, candles (diyas) and a megawatt standing lamp. The room is brighter than it would be in broad sunlight and it will remain this way all night.

Economic downturn, rising food prices and the tight supply of cash have already prevented Indian families  the world over from being as lavish in their gifts and celebrations as previous years. These are days of  (financial) darkness which cannot be driven away by the extra consumption of electricity to burn lampshades all night in the hopes of getting ‘Lakshmi’ (money) to come into our homes. It simply means a higher electricity bill at the end of the month ( not to mention the water bill from all the cooking and cleaning) — lakshmi going rather than coming. Festival of light increases financial burdens instead of bringing prosperity.

Can someone explain all the smoke INSIDE the house from the ‘hawan-kundh?’ I don’t get why some Indian people need to hold big congregations of people in their house to say a few chants, pour ghee into fire and create massive amounts of smoke that even has the smoke-alarm blaring loudly in a room all the way upstairs with a closed door. Festival of lights does not mean light your house on fire. And it certainly does not mean making your guests and family members suffocate in smoke first thing in the morning, especially if they already suffer from chronic hayfever!

Thankfully, we do not have ‘noise’ in the United States due to firecrackers going off in many neighborhoods. But if you are celebrating, think about the animals in your area with five times as much hearing sensitivity than your own, silently suffering in ignorant human revelery. Festival of lights, not festival of noise.

And who can forget the sweets — the sugary fried delights — ‘balls of sugar’ according to my brother-in-law. Do we really need to celebrate the victory of good over evil with tooth decay, high cholesterol and diabetes? It certainly is not the festival of glucose and fat.

Happy Diwali.