Deepavali, aka Diwali, is Hindu Christmas. So, a pretty big deal, if you think about it. Ethnically Indian, married to an American of Indian heritage for 10 years with two beautiful children, we had not celebrated Deepavali as a family ever... until this year, thanks to Rhoshogolla. Rhoshogolla is a lovely young girl from Bengal who works as a outsourced programmer who has been "insourced" or implanted within the company in Charlotte. A pretty girl with large dark eyes, she has taken upon herself to bring India closer to me or at least to remind me of my heritage. Thanks to her, I have now seen two Hindi films this year, tried out a few Indian restaurants in Charlotte, and celebrated Deepavali after 20 years.
A couple of weeks ago, Rhosh suggested that we gather a small group and head out to Maharani for Deepavali lunch on Friday, the 5th of November. I happily obliged and sent out an Outlook invitation to the group. A few days before Deepavali, Rhosh checked in again to find out what I had planned for Deepavali. "Err, nothing really" was my honest answer. "Why don't you get those clay diyas and get the kids to paint them before you light them? I used to enjoy that as a child myself." Excellent suggestion! I dutifully trotted off to the Indian grocery store on Wednesday night. In addition to the diyas, I also bought a big box of jelabees (deep fried rings of orange dough dipped in sticky syrup) and my son's favorite, kaju katli (cashew based milk squares). The kaju katli made it to Deepavali but the jelabees didn't. They were pretty good! Crispy, light, sticky sweet and reminiscent of grand parties in Chennai.
This seemingly small suggestion started snowballing into a detailed and delegated event. Prince Charming was given the job of getting everyone new clothes and our nanny was given the task of getting the painting project going. I managed to also pick up a beautiful cinnamon roll embedded with walnuts from the Great Harvest Bread Company in Charlotte the day of, and the evening was a success though slightly chaotic. I made it back after 6 PM, and ran around the house clearing up the pantry which houses our prayer room and polishing the silver oil lamps. Made a platter of cinnamon roll, kaju katli and some grapes, played some Indian prayer music on Youtube and ceremoniously handed out the new clothes. After quick showers and a change into our new clothes, we were all piled back in the pantry room. A little prayer was said and it was time to light the painted diyas. We all took turns and even five-year old chocolate lit one with her father holding her hand. We sat down around the platter of lamps and read a couple of Deepavali stories. A tradition was born in Davidson, North Carolina, thanks to Rhoshogolla.