Deepavali is translated to “Row of Lights” and is the most important festival in Hinduism. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.
What an amazing tour in Little India! Along with some of my friends, we headed out to explore and learn about the Deepavali festival. We were greeted and adorned with a bindi and jasmine flower bracelet by our tour guide, Charlotte. Fragrant flowers are often offered to the god/goddess. Buyer beware! These are real and the bees LOVE them! Next, we learned all about the history of the betel nut and it’s role in the Paranakan (local born) culture. The betel nut is chewed as part of a package consisting of small pieces of the betel nut combined with some lime paste or powder (from limestone or coral) and some times tobacco, gambier or other spices, and these ingredients are packaged in the betel vine leaf. This whole package is referred to as the betel chew, quid or wad. On the plus side, it doesn’t leave a ring on the back pocket of your Levi’s! You Texans know what I mean :).
Off to the temple! I learned from my previous mistake and wore appropriate clothing today, so as not to embarrass my friends and get kicked out again. We were told that all the priests come from India on a “local package” and stay about 3 years. There is a lot of interesting history here, but I’m only going to tell you about one as it was the most graphic. Periyachi, guardian goddess of children and is associated with childbirth and pregnancy. Please feel free to zoom in on this picture to get the best visual. If you look closely she has a women on her lap, baby in her hand, a crazed look in her eye, and intestines hanging from her mouth. Her fierce appearance is said to ward off evil spirits.
Tea time! It was actually very good, but I like things sweet. If you are expecting Chinese tea, then this is not for you. It tasted like chai tea to me. Wish it would’ve been a few degrees cooler outside though. Tried some delicious prata and will be back for more of that yumminess! On our walk to our final destination we passed some interesting sights (gold adorned truck, Deepavali decor, and Little India goddess with four arms).
Last stop, Sari demo! I volunteered to be the model and quickly started to regret it, layer upon layer of heavy beautiful material. Lordy, that was hot! For only $200 that beautiful sari could’ve been mine. If only I had a place to wear it to. 😉 Made a quick stop for some Naan to finish off our morning.
The only bad part of these amazing tours is that Bill and the kids aren’t with me. Oh well, hope my memory is sufficient for when I take them later!