The first time I witnessed a Fourth of July fireworks display, I was completely blown away by the grand scale of the event, the crowds, the parade, the tempo and celebrations around me. It was truly an exhilarating experience as I sat atop a hill overlooking a park, with hundreds of others and watched the spectacular display of fireworks against the backdrop of the beautiful summer skies of North Carolina.
As memorable as this experience was, and as much as I enjoy watching the July 4th fireworks year after year, it doesn’t really compare to the Diwali fireworks I enjoyed as a child in my very own backyard – the fond memories of which I carry to this day. I may be far away from my family and having fireworks in my porch or backyard may be out of the question here in the US, but every year, as Diwali approaches, my thoughts wander down memory lane.
In India, the approach of Deepavali, the grandest festival of the year, is marked by the sights and sounds of fire crackers and sparklers, that are seen and heard days ahead of the actual festival. Although I like the idea of an entire town or neighborhood gathering in a park to view communal fireworks, as is the practice in July 4th celebrations in the US, it took a little getting used to initially. You see, Diwali is an occasion when children and adults alike participate actively in the bursting and display of fire crackers. ‘Rockets’, ‘Pencil crackers’, ‘Floor Chakra’, ‘Fountain Crackers’ are some of the varieties of fire crackers that we enjoyed as kids. Each had its unique feature and appeal.
Children laid out the fire crackers to dry in the sun days before Diwali. We compared each other’s collections and secretly eye another’s more exotic variety. The actual bursting of crackers began a few days ahead. Unable to contain our excitement, we would begin bursting our fire crackers one after another. As Diwali neared, box after box of fire cracker and sparkler was opened. When Deepavali finally arrived, it was a grand finale to the weeks of celebrations. Friends and family came together at someone’s terrace or courtyard to partake in the joyous event. We shared our fire crackers and enjoyed each other’s displays. Healthy competition ensued between neighboring streets or communities as to which display was grander or lasted longer. Children, dressed in their finest, holding sparklers in their little hands were truly a sight to behold. From toddler to octogenarian , there was a fire cracker to suit everybody’s taste and style – from the simple, hand-held sparklers to the loudest of ‘bombs’ to the most complex, nested rockets.
There’s something about that kind of chaotic and casual, friendly fireworks display that is missing in the extremely well-orchestrated displays we are used to today. Although viewing a sophisticated fireworks extravaganza in the skies above is an enthralling experience, it somehow is not the same as participating first-hand in the bursting of fire crackers with family and friends in one’s own backyard.
Which is why I will certainly be going to the Diwali fireworks display in my city. The Hindu Temple of Atlanta organizes a fireworks display in which children and adults can actually participate. And that’s an event I won’t be missing. I want my three year old daughter to experience, at least in some form, the thrill of Deepavali fire crackers first hand. If you’re looking for a similar experience, be sure to join the Diwali celebrations in your city. Just warn your kids though that it’s going to be a different kind of fireworks display! Maybe not as sophisticated as July 4th, but probably a lot more action than they’re used to!
To give them a hint as to what they might expect to see, send them this free Diwali Ecard which captures beautifully the essence of Diwali fireworks.
For our complete list of Diwali ecards click here
For diwali celebrations in your area click here
A few weeks back we talked about how to Indian Festivals will kick off our busy season. Obviously Christmas and New Year is going to be the play offs. But these days we are working on diwali ecards and Halloween ecards do check them out. Also do not forget free printable Halloween cards here you can find cards to color. This is an awesome project for kids and since they are free you can print out a bunch so that they can distribute to their classmates. The other fun feature here is that you can even add a class photo and make it even more personal.
Do not forget we have recently added printable photo cards perfect to create birthday invitations right at home. We are also working to add more photo frames that will be halloween themed. So be sure to re-visit us soon or join our newsletter.
Something about the colors and joyous expressions on these kids’ faces puts me in Diwali mood already. It reminds me of all the Deepavalis I celebrated as a child. Although the anticipation of the festival set in weeks earlier, the real highlight was the arrival of gifts and firecrackers. The heavenly aroma of sweets and savories would start wafting through our home a few days before Deepavali. One evening, a few days before Diwali, my dad and uncles would bring home huge boxes of fire crackers and sparklers for all of us kids to enjoy. Friends, relatives and neighbors would drop in with boxes of sweets and gifts. Grandparents would narrate tales associated with Diwali. Every year, they would introduce us to an aspect of a story or character that was new to us.
Another of my favorite rangoli Diwali ecards (has the delicate fingers of a lady adorning her home with the traditional Rangoli – a design made on the floor with rice flour and colored powder. It is an art I have not managed to master yet, but every time I see an intricately created Rangoli, I can’t help but stop to admire it. There are many different styles of Rangolis in India. In Tamil, they’re called Kolams. A kolam is a meticulously created geometric design that adorns the front of a home or the entrance to a shrine. The more auspicious the occasion, the more ornate the design. In North India, Rangolis – as the name suggests (Rang = Color) – are colorful designs, usually of flowers or other auspicious symbols, as seen in this free Diwali ecard.
During Diwali, the kolams and rangolis are adorned with beautiful Diyas or earthen lamps. The glow of the lamps further enriches the artistic designs, highlighting the best parts. Some rangolis are also decorated with colorful flowers and leaves.
And of course, how can one forget Lord Ganesh? On Diwali, and any other auspicious occasion, Hindus invoke His blessings before beginning any of the celebrations. So, it’s only natural that He is featured in some of these free ecards. If you have never sent out a Diwali ecard before and are not sure of which one to pick, one of these is sure to be a good choice.
Enjoy all of them and pick the ones you like the best. Go ahead and send as many as you wish. They’re all free, animated and easy to send.
Do stop by and tell us which free ecard or printable diwali cards you like best and why.
To experience spicy food, vibrant colors, foot tapping Bollywood music and traditional Indian arts, music and crafts, you don’t have to travel to India. Although, celebrating Diwali in India has its own magic, you can experience the spirit of the season almost anywhere in the world. Many cities in the US, UK, Canada and other western countries that have a considerable Indian population, host Diwali celebrations in one form or another. Some of them are quite spectacular, not very different from July 4th celebrations.
This Diwali, if you can’t make it to India, be sure to check out what your city has in store. There’s sure to be a Diwali Mela somewhere in your city or in a neighboring city. Take some time off to enjoy India’s biggest festival with your family and don’t forget to send free Diwali ecards to your friends and family.
- Atlanta : Oct 9 2009 : Win a diamond ring for Diwali! Enjoy an evening of fun, food and fireworks with your family at Festival of Lights – A cultural Extravaganza, a program organized by DesiRoots. Celebrations include cultural performances, food stalls, shops, games and fireworks, starting at 5 pm. Please note: this program was initially scheduled for Sep 18, but has been postponed to Oct 9 due to inclement weather in Atlanta. So, don’t miss this second chance! Who knows – you may even walk out with a diamond ring. http://www.desiroots.net/
- Dallas : Oct 4th 2009 : How would you like to celebrate Diwali in the state-of-the-art Cowboys stadium? This year, if you truly want to experience the grandeur and spectacular nature of Diwali celebrations, then don’t miss the Diwali Mela 2009 in Arlington, TX. Programs and activities include cultural performances including a special Ram Leela production, kids games, magic shows, animal rides and raas, garba dances in which you can participate with your family. http://www.dfwdiwalimela.com/
- San Francisco Bay Area: Experience the most colorful aspects of India and the festival of lights, by making it to the Cupertino Diwali celebrations. Highlights include dance performances from various parts of India, Bollywood dances, kids’ shows, animal rides, games, wood workshops, coloring contests, Mehendi or henna booths, food courts, Indian bazaars and handicraft displays. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/23/NSUC19OO4H.DTL
- San Francisco, Oct 9-11: How would you like to be transported to India, just for Diwali? There is a chance that this will happen if you participate in the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple Diwali celebrations. Slated to be the biggest Diwali event of Bay Area, this 3-day long festival features classical concerts by seasoned musicians and performances by local artists. Other programs include cultural performances, talent shows and games like Antakshari in which you can participate with your family. Food booths and handicrafts displays enrich your experience as you celebrate the festival of lights in sunny California.http://www.sunnyvaletemple.org/diwali2009.htm.
- Vancouver, Oct 18 – 12-7 pm : If you’re in Vancouver and wish to experience the fervor of Diwali, then mark your calendar right now – Downtown Diwali – is an event like none other. A day-long extravaganza that combines the finest elements of traditional, classical South Asian arts with contemporary, fusion forms. The event promotes local South Asian artists, presenting performances in various styles – Bharatnatyam, Bhangra, Hindustani, Bollywood, Jazz, fusion, hip hop. Besides Downtown Diwali, several other arts and culture workshops and performances will take place throughout the month at various locations. These include Diya or lamp painting workshops, workshops that teach the art of wearing a sari and others. So, this Diwali season, experience a slice of India in Vancouver. http://www.vandiwali.ca/events/
So, where will you be celebrating Diwali this year?
And be sure to upload a picture from the Diwali Mela you go to and create a free photo ecard to share with your friends and family.
Holidays are here.
Maybe not in the US and other Western countries, yet.
But, in India, the festival season has already swung into action with the onset of Navarathri and Durga Puja.
The next big festival of course is Deepavali or Diwali – the festival of lights. This is one occasion that people of all faiths celebrate. Although Diwali has its roots in Hindu mythology, the manner in which it is celebrated is such that people of all faiths and walks of life join in the festivities.
Celebrations include meticulous planning of family meals. Exotic sweet dishes and savories are prepared for the occasion in large quantities to be shared with neighbors and friends. People clean their homes(much like spring cleaning), and beautify it in preparation for Diwali. Walls are washed and painted. Festoons and flowers are used to decorate walls, ceilings, door frames and windows. Earthen lamps are brought out, washed, cleaned and set out to dry in the sun. Some are even decorated with paint. Families, especially those with young children purchase several packs of fire crackers and sparklers weeks in advance. Children find it exciting to discover the latest fire crackers on the market and compete with each other, showing off their best buys.
Celebrations officially begin on Diwali eve. Women dressed in their finest traditional garments, light up dozens of earthen lamps. They fill them with oil or ghee and after lighting them, carry them on trays to different parts of the house and set them down in decorative arrangements. The front porch, backyard, window sills, doorways, roofs, balconies – all take on a beautiful glow, adorned with rows and rows of lamps. Rangolis or colorful, floral patterns are created on the floor in front of the house and in other prominent places. Guests begin arriving. Families come out into the courtyard or street to enjoy a display of fire crackers and to greet each other.
In some parts of India Diwali begins with a Mangal Snaan (Holy Bath.) People awake at dawn and apply oil to their hair and body before bathing. Wearing new clothes, they offer prayers before going out to meet friends and family and participating in a fireworks display. A grand feast is prepared and the whole family, including members of the extended family, meets for lunch. Some visit temples or other relatives during the day to
share sweet dishes and to exchange gifts and greetings.
In other places, Diwali celebrations begin only at dusk. People gather to greet each other and enjoy a family dinner. This is followed by partying and games. A popular custom is that of playing cards through the night. In North India, this is considered auspicious and a means to invoke Goddess Lakshmi who represents wealth. Diwali is considered to mark the beginning of the new year and thus, people pray for a year of good fortune.
New movies come to theatres on Diwali day in most Indian states. People throng the theatres to catch the first show. The past decade has seen a decline in families going out and celebrating Diwali with friends and family as specially produced Diwali themed TV shows claim their time.
No matter how you celebrate Diwali, sending a free ecard will only take a minute. It tells your loved ones that you’re thinking of them on the auspicious occasion. Our animated Diwali ecards represent all the wonderful aspects of the festival from Rangolis to rows of lamps, fireworks to sharing boxes of sweets. So, even if you’re not celebrating Diwali with family, our free ecards serve as a reminder of each its beautiful elements. And if you are, then, there’s no better way to reinforce the Diwali spirit than with a free ecard.
Deewali or Deepavali, the most popular festival of India falls on Monday, Oct 27, 2008. How will you celebrate?
There are different beliefs, rituals, mythological tales and legends associated with Deepavali, the festival of lights. Even the name has variations ranging from Diwali, to Deevali. In Hindi, its expansion ‘Deepon ki Aavali’ means row of lights, which are used to represent this festival. Some believe that this is the day Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasur, the demon. Others believe that this is the day Lord Ram vanquished the demon king Ravan. No matter what the belief, this festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is one of the festivals that is celebrated in almost every state and region of India. To some, it represents the birth of a new year. Rituals like playing cards all night are believed to bring in prosperity. For others, it is an auspicious day to buy gold or a new house or appliances.
Deepavali is celebrated in different ways. People meet friends and relatives, exchange sweets and goodies, wear new clothes, worship in temples, decorate the house and porch with lamps and rangoli. Blockbuster movies hit the theatres. Prime time programs revolve around interviews with film stars and how they celebrate the festival.
Amidst all this fanfare, the true significance of the occasion tends to get lost. Now might be a good time to remind ourselves the real meaning of Deepavali. A lamp or light symbolizes dispelling the darkness of ignorance and evil in each of us. Ravan and Narakasur represent the demons in us. Each of us possesses the noble qualities that Lord Ram and Lord Krishna propagated. Deepavali is a reminder of the eternal flame glowing within us. It is this realization that leads to enlightenment, bliss and everlasting peace.
So by all means, celebrate Deepavali with friends and family. Exchange gifts and deewali ecards. Wear your finest clothes and jewelry. Treat yourself to a feast and fireworks.
But in addition, why not start and end the day spending a few quiet moments looking inwards?
Wish you a very peaceful, safe and happy Diwali!