Swastika NIKON D5100 20141023 2771

The swastika is well-recognized as an important Hindu symbol. It represents God (the Brahman) in his universal manifestation, and energy (Shakti). It represents the four directions of the world (the four faces of Brahma). It also represents the Purushartha: Dharma (natural order), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire), and Moksha (liberation). The swastika symbol is traced with sindoor during Hindu religious rites.

Last week we celebrated Diwali with my wife’s extended family. We’ve done this for a few years now. We started it as a way for our kids to learn about my wife’s cultural traditions as well as a counter to the commercialism of the American Christmas.

Happy Diwali NIKON D5100 20141021 2670

Each of the households took turns hosting dinner and activities designed to teach about the history of Diwali.

Week 46 – Diwali

This week I’ve celebrated Diwali with Bhavana’s family. It felt a little hectic this year. Last year Diwali was in October. The only event we had to contend with was Halloween. We also celebrated my sister-in-laws birthday two days before. This weekend is my birthday and next week we’re hosting Thanksgiving. Whew!

As a family, we are normally surrounded by the rest of the USA going about their preparations for Thanksgiving and then Christmas. As the kids got older we wanted to celebrate their mother’s culture. For a few years, we’ve created a tradition around Diwali that involves making rangoli. The crafting material was purchased from Michael’s. Bhavna’s friend Ami — we consider her an extended family member — has been helpful in finding creative ways to make rangoli. This year she helped the kids create a Diwali scrapbook. She wanted them to have something they could look back on when they are older. Next year my son will be in high-school. It’s often a time when kids have trouble finding their identity. I hope it will help him stay grounded.

Ami had the steps to her home decorated with diya. Traditionally these are oil lamps that are left lit all night to help guide the gods to your home and to bring blessings to the home. For safety reasons we used tea lights that we extinguished before going to bed. We also have electric tea lights.