Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Happy Deepavali! Today is 'Mountain of Food' Day!

 Ovidia--every other Tuesday

Deepavali celebrates the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance.
It's celebrated with oil lamps light displays and--for the first time in three years--joyous gatherings!

Even though Deepavali is a five day festival, here in Singapore only one day (yesterday, the actual Deepavali) is a public holiday. But being Singapore, celebrations, decorations and food are up a month in advance.

I know, I should have come to get photos after dark when all the decorations are lit up--this is a celebration of light over darkness so there are also oil lamps and kids playing with sparklers--but I needed to get this post out! 

A quick run through of this festival:

Day One: October 22: Dhanteras or Dhan Trayodashi, a day dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.

It's an auspicious day to celebrate the Goddess Lakshmi by buying gold, silver, clothes, electronic gadgets...

Day Two:  October 23: Narak Chaturdashi, also known as Choti Diwali

According to tradition, this is the day Lord Krishna fought and defeated the demon Narakasura and liberated the sixteen thousand princesses that had been held captive.

Day Three: Monday October 24: Deepavali 

This is the main festival day of Deepavali, and a public holiday here. This celebrates the day Lord Rama returned after killing Ravana and the day Goddess Lakshmi comes to bless people with luck and riches.

Day Four: Today, Tuesday 25 October is Govardhan Puja, the 4th of the 5 days of Deepavali, also known as Annakut, meaning 'mountain of food'.

This commemorates a(nother) flood story--after 7 days of torrential rain, the people of Mathura begged Lord Krishna to save their lives. Lord Krishna told the villagers to go towards Govardhan Hill, which he uprooted and held on his little finger. The villagers and all their animals took shelter beneath and were saved.

And it's celebrated (sorry I only have a secular experience of this) with offerings of sweet and savoury delicacies (vegetarian) and flowers that are then shared among the people.

I went down to Campbell Lane and Hastings Road in Serangoon to see some of the decorations and feel the excitement. It was raining, but the atmosphere was fantastic!

(It was a bit demoralising to be called 'Aunty' by strangers but when they're offering me a seat/ an umbrella/ directions/ warning me a patch up ahead is slippery and giving me mithai I can live with it!) 

And there were flowers everywhere, the fragrance was amazing!

Just one example of the flowers. 

It was really crowded on the five foot ways as people tried to stay out of the rain as much as possible without missing anything that might be happening on the other side of the road. Men were threading jasmine garlands as women painted henna tattoos and 'bracelets' and children pointed to cakes and candies...

Which I also found very interesting.

These are just some of what I brought home. I don't know the names of all of them but they're all delicious!

Day Five: Wednesday 26 October. Tomorrow is Bhai Dooj, the final day which celebrates the unconditional and eternal bond between siblings.

This is an occasion to exchange sweets (or at least sweet words) with your brothers or sisters!

This is as far as I've got in identifying my sweet loot. 

If you help me identify the orange and white cakes I would really appreciate it!

The only one I'm sure of is the 'adhirasam' because the nice lady who recommended them (she was getting them as gifts and to pray with) spelled it for me. The sugee biscuits and coconut candy are guesses because they taste like sugee cake and coconut.

And though I'm a little late, Happy Deepavali everyone!


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