Diwali

One of the strange things about working for a company with headquarters in India is getting used to working with a holiday schedule that has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Yesterday, was the first day of Diwali, apparently, a five-day festival of lights that celebrates I’m still not sure quite what.

Some of my work projects were being delayed regardless, however, and since I’ve come to understand it’s more constructive to live into difference than push against it, I thought I’d invite some people over for a g&t Diwali cocktail hour, hoping somehow someone of us might be able to shed some light on the illusive holiday.

I found a recipe for “Delicious Fried Morsels from the household of Tapask Roy” in Madhur Jaffrey’s 1985 A Taste of India, (I had read somewhere that on the first night of Diwali you usually eat lots of little fried things) substituting various corn flours from the Dominican grocery for the various Indian legume fours called for in Tapask Roy’s recipe.

It was an experiment, which I think was most successful in the impromptu dipping sauce I created (yogurt, chopped cilantro, cumin) for the battered and fried veggies and the savory birthday cake I turned the remaining batter into today.

In retrospect, it seems to me that many of our upcoming staid western holiday traditions could benefit from some of the experimentation and improvisation I experienced this Diwali.

I’m sure our observance was not kosher in any traditional sense, but as a celebration of tradition, community and spiritual attentiveness it was by all accounts a great success.

Do we really know what Thanksgiving is about apart from serving Turkey? What if turkey is all we knew it was about? Would we plan our menus or guest lists differently? Why bother if we’re not learning, growing, expanding, just observing?

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