Posts Tagged ‘Diwali’

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Mary: Diwali

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! It feels so strange to be in a country that doesn’t celebrate one of my favorite holidays. I can’t even convey how much I miss seeing carved pumpkins, scarecrows, weird fake spiderwebs with little plastic creatures strewn about them and strangely dressed kids roaming the streets at night!  Although I did just get to celebrate the most important holiday of the year here in India, called Diwali. Hannah and I returned from out internship (more on that later) for a few days to spend the holidays with my host mom in Jaipur. Diwali is also known as the festival of lights and for good reason – the festival itself it seen as the triumph of good over evil and starting a new year with high hopes and good intentions. Everyone decorates their houses quite extensively with dozens of strands of colored and white lights and tiny little oil lamps are placed around the outside of the house, lining walkways, gardens and fences. Our neighbors on both sides have little kids in the family and they were setting off incredibly loud and crazy fireworks for hours on Divwali night; the whole city was in fact, Hannah and I camped out on the roof for a few hours, watching the never ending displays. Honestly, it would have put most American fourth of July shows to shame! (Except my dad’s annual show, of course.) My host-sister took Hannah and I on a driving tour of the city as well – all of the big malls compete with each other to see who can decorate their buildings the most elaborately. It was really crazy to see these huge, six or seven story shopping malls with hundreds and hundreds of lights strung about! There were tons of other families out looking at the sites as well, most of them dressed in the finest saris and shawls, taking family portraits in front of the displays! We also had a lovely family dinner with all sorts of special Diwali sweets and Hindu prayers during a special puja. It felt like experiencing an American Christmas in a strange, altered reality, viewed through the the colorful, brilliantly lit, shape-shifting lens of a kaleidoscope. All the traditional elements of a festive season were there – family coming together, good food, decorations – but they had taken on a distinctly Indian adaptation. It was a wonderful experience and one I will not easily forget! I’v included a few pictures from the celebrations below! I’ve also put in a few pictures (the ones of the temples and country landscapes) from my new internship site!  To better explain what I’m doing with my new internship, stay tuned.

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Ellen: Lost in translation

November 6, 2010

I don’t think Indians understand why I am here. I haven’t figured out how to say “semester abroad” or “experiential learning” or “wanderlust”

I am here to observe and live in their country immersed in their culture. I came prepared for everything to be different and overwhelming—and I think I have handled it rather well. I am adapting to their customs and habits, and I respect their way of life. But they cannot understand mine.

I am 20 and not married *GASP* I might not even get married til I’m 28! and it will be for love, not an arrangement! My sister is 23 and she’s not married! And…wait for it…I don’t have a brother *GASP*GASP*

I try to explain that it is ok in America to not have brothers (would anybody really want to deal with a Blanchard son?) and that I want to get married, but in America 20 is considered young to get married. (The other day someone was appalled that I am not married and said to my face that I was old.) And usually people wait until after college to get married.

So besides that mini rant, all is well!!

I have been in Phalodi for the week, and I will go to a village on Tuesday the 9th. There hasn’t been a lot of internship-related work, but I think this has been one of the best weeks of my life.

I am the novelty white girl at the foundation. Every person and their cousins knows the story of my life, rather, the story that they chose to tell based on the facts I try to tell about myself in broken Hindi (but obviously the most important things are that I am not married and don’t have a brother).

The main people who work at the foundation live at the foundation, so it’s like having 7 host families! So I have chai at least 5 times a day, and get to hang out with…I can’t even count them all…19 siblings.

and Diwali!! in a nutshell: Let all those under the age of 6 run around with sparklers and matches. Let them set off as many firecrakers as they want and stand only 4 feet away. Repeat all night long.

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