Happy Diwali to the readers of this blog ! I called this post Weekend Diwali because of an interesting rounding off phenomenon that is present in the Indian social circle here or may be I guess it is present everywhere where your festivals and celebrations are not officially recognized. What happens is that every festival is rounded off to the nearest available weekend. So when it is celebrated here, it is either still 3-4 days away back home or it already got over 2-3 days ago.
But this year, the Diwali fell on a weekend and so it was nice to give in to the festive mood right when the fun was on. Infact I had quite a lot of fun over the weekend, more than I expected. The weekend started with a surprise half an hour fireworks show at UPitt (No, they were not celebrating Diwali but had their homecoming weekend). Since even back home I never buy firecrackers and just like to watch them, it was a nice treat. Next day we had a pooja and dinner in the SV Temple which is the main stay of most of the religious activities in Pittsburgh and is some kind of pilgrimage from Indians living in this area of east coast. It is always nice to go back to the smells and sounds of temple and this time we had the add bonus of a big crowd around that really made it fun :-).
And Sunday was our own CMU IGSA celebrating the Diwali with a pooja, cultural show and Dinner (you can see the weekend effect creeping in but I am not complaining). The cultural show which was essentially music and dance was pretty good. To their credit, they sang Maa Rewa from Indian Ocean which I think was quiet a decent performance. There were some classical pieces and dance performances. The evening ended with a tasty dinner and a disc afterwards. It kind of reminded me of the Diwali functions that we used to have back in college.
One of my profs here while talking about Diwali remarked that it must suck to live in a country where nobody recognizes or celebrates yours festivals. I kind of agree and disagree. On one hand it surely sucks because the scale and mood never attain the same pitch as back home and because a lot of people with whom you would like to be are not around. But on the other hand they make you feel very special and make you realize all the culture, traditions that you carry with yourself and which enriches this diverse world in a unique way. Back home it was the same for everybody around, everybody did a pooja, everybody had sweets, everybody lighted their houses. Watching a lone lighted house in a whole row of dark houses (courtesy Eakta) gives a very different feeling. And when you realize this for yourself, it only takes a little effort to go ahead and realize this for everybody else. How the minorities, those who are different, those who come from different cultural background must feel in the society where I belonged to the majority. It is a strange mix of pride, anxiety and may be a sense of responsibility. Though I think their experiences would be more intense since I know I am here only for a finite period of time and not forever as is not the case with many of them.